Spain's development ministry has said that a fire broke out on a ferry as it journeyed from Palma on the island of Majorca to Valencia in Spain.

Spanish media reported that around 150 people had to abandon ship around 17 miles from Palma de Mallorca and were helped by emergency services.

The 'Sorrento' ferry sent out distress signals, the Ministry of Public Works said in a statement, and passengers were picked up in from lifeboats by several ships.

A port authority said 170 passengers were rescued but sea rescue services were unable to confirm the number.

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Images show the ferry belching out thick clouds of smoke.

Three of the ferry's crew members were reportedly taken to hospital by helicopter.

- The Independent