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Middle East
Many drown in Iran boat accident
Sixteen bodies recovered after passenger boat sinks off southern coast due to engine malfunction in stormy weather.
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2012 14:47
The boat's captain, among the five rescued, is being held for questioning [Reuters]

At least 16 people have died after a passenger boat sank off Iran's southern coast, the official IRNA news agency has reported.

The boat sank on Saturday evening while sailing between Hormuz island and the port city of Bandar Abbas on the mainland, local media reported.

Rescue teams saved five passengers and recovered 16 bodies. One passenger remains missing.

An eyewitness told The Associated Press news agency that most of the dead were senior citizens on a tour of nearby islands.

The boat began its 18km journey despite a travel ban on light boats by authorities, due to a storm with winds of 80kph, AP reported.

Provincial port authorities received a request for help from the boat after its engine had broken down because of heavy currents.

Authorities have blamed the boat’s captain, who was one of the five rescued, of ignoring the warnings.The captain is in detention and being questioned, officials told the semi-official Fars News Agency.

Every day dozens of passenger boats travel between Bandar Abbas and nearby islands near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, some 1000km south of the capital Tehran.

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