ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Fire broke out Monday night aboard the Greek ferry Rodos, and its 641 passengers were evacuated on lifeboats and carried to safety by passing liners, the Merchant Marine ministry said.

There were no reports of injuries among the passengers or the 99-member crew, Merchant Marine Minister Aristotelis Pavlides. A total of seven passing ships took the passengers to Piraeus, near Athens.

The crew remained aboard to fight the blaze, assisted by firefighting tugboats. The fire was been brought under control by early Tuesday, officials said.

The fire broke out in the engine room as the vessel sailed off Cape Sounion, 40 miles southwest of Athens, Pavlides said. The ferry was bound from Piraeus to the island of Rhodes, he said.

Theodoros Economou, a passenger, told reporters in Piraeus that there had been no panic aboard the Rodos.

''Suddenly the ship stopped and I saw black smoke pouring out one of the holds in the stern near the engine room,'' he said. ''The crew told us to put on our life jackets and everyone calmly boarded lifeboats.''