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Survivors of Doomed Egyptian Ferry Say Captain Abandoned Ship

Surviving passengers of an Egyptian ferry that sank in the Red Sea say the captain abandoned his burning ship by lifeboat, leaving hundreds of passengers and crew on board to fend for themselves.

Western news reports quote still other survivors as saying the Egyptian captain had refused to turn back when the fire was discovered only an hour after leaving port in Saudi Arabia.

An official of the ship owner told Reuters news agency late Satuday that the captain is still unaccounted for.

Authorities said Saturday 400 people have been rescued and nearly 200 bodies recovered. About 800 others - most of them Egyptian workers returning from Saudi Arabia - were missing.

Maritime officials say the 12,000 - ton ferry Al-Salam Boccaccio 98 left the Saudi port of Dubah Thursday evening, bound for the Egyptian port of Safaga.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.