Passengers escaped on lifeboats when a fire broke out on a ferry carrying more than 1,200 people from the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba to Egypt Thursday, officials said.

One man died when he tried to save himself by jumping into the sea, the Jordanian state news agency Petra reported. His corpse was retrieved, it said.

An official from Egypt's Red Sea ports authority initially said the ferry sank after the fire had caused extensive damage, but later reported that it was still partly afloat.

The vessel had been heading for the Egyptian port of Nuweiba. It had travelled about 15 nautical miles from Aqaba when the fire took hold.

An Egyptian official said the rescued passengers were taken to Aqaba. Petra said 27 people were injured.

Egyptian state television said Egyptian naval launches and military aircraft were involved in the rescue. The maritime official said the passengers were mainly Egyptian expatriate workers returning home.

The vessel is owned by Arab Bridge Maritime Company (AB Maritime), a joint venture between the governments of Jordan, Egypt and Iraq.

(Reporting by Yusri Mohamed in Ismailiya and Omar Fahmy in Cairo; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Peter Graff and Andrew Roche)