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Spain ferry fire forces lifeboat evacuation

MADRID - Spain's development ministry says a ferry heading from the Mediterranean island city of Palma de Mallorca to the southern coastal city of Valencia is burning at sea, forcing passengers to abandon ship in lifeboats.

Spanish media say more than 100 people left the passenger and cargo ferry Tuesday afternoon after the fire broke out when the ship was about 17 miles from Palma de Mallorca.

The ministry's statement did not say how many were aboard and provided no immediate information on whether there were injuries, but said three of the ferry's crew members were taken by a helicopter to a hospital.

The ministry says passengers in lifeboats were picked up by several ships.

Images showed thick smoke billowing from the ferry.

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