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At least 57 die in Bahrain boat accident


The Bahrain Interior Ministry says it has set up a hot line for people seeking information about the passengers. For international callers, the number should be preceded by an international exit code, then the Bahrain code 973.

Hotline: 1-777-00000




DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- At least 57 bodies have been recovered by Friday in the Persian Gulf off Bahrain after a cruise boat carrying 137 people capsized the night before.

Sixty-seven people were rescued and 13 remain missing after the boat tipped over around 9:30 p.m. (1:30 ET) Thursday, Bahrain Interior Ministry officials said. Eleven of the dead were unidentified.

An Interior Ministry spokesman provided nationalities of the dead who had been identified: three Filipinos, four South Africans, two Singaporeans, five Pakistanis, one German, one Irish, 13 Britons and 17 Indians.

Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Hassan said the cause of the boat's sinking was not known and will be investigated. Witnesses told the British Foreign Office that the boat capsized on its way back into port. (Watch how the party cruise turned into a deadly nightmare -- 2:11)

Sheikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, the interior minister, said an initial probe found no indication of terrorism. (Watch what recovery workers returned to shore -- 1:26)

The consortium Nass-Murray & Roberts chartered the boat for a dinner cruise to celebrate the end of a construction project. They are the lead contractors in the 50-story World Trade Center in Bahrain's capital, Manama.

More than 50 senior employees from companies working on the project perished, according to a statement from Murray & Roberts.

Ten of the company's workers were confirmed dead and 15 were safe, the statement said.

"We are deeply shocked by this tragedy," said Brian Bruce, Murray & Roberts' chief executive. "Our sympathy and condolences go out to all those who have been affected."

He said a crisis center was set up at corporate headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The boat tipped over in clear weather in a narrow channel about a mile from the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, Navy officials said. The Navy sent boats, a helicopter and Coast Guard cutter to the scene and also offered the services of divers.

A man who declined to be identified said he was on the observation deck before the boat left the Marina Club port and was concerned because the vessel felt top-heavy. The man, who did not join the cruise, said the boat had two levels.

He said a friend of his, who was a bartender on the boat, was able to swim ashore. He quoted his friend as saying a swell or wake lifted the boat, sending kitchen equipment to one side of the vessel, before it capsized.

Al Khudsay Travel and Tourism is the tour boat operator.

Construction of the World Trade Center is nearing completion in Manama. The sail-shaped, twin office and retail towers will use wind energy to provide up to 15 percent of the electricity needed by the buildings.

Thursday's sinking comes fewer than two months after an Egyptian ferry -- the Al Salam Boccaccio 98 -- sank in rough Red Sea waters in February. An estimated 1,000 passengers were feared dead.

CNN's Caroline Faraj, Kevin Flower and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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