Home>News Center>World
         
 

Most of 1,400 on Egypt ferry feared lost
(AP/Reuters)
Updated: 2006-02-04 08:26

An aging ferry sank in the choppy waters of the Red Sea on Friday with more than 1,400 people on board, mainly Egyptian workers returning from Saudi Arabia. Most were feared lost but officials said at least 314 made it to safety.

A spokesman for President Hosni Mubarak said the ferry did not have enough lifeboats, and questions were raised about the safety of the 35-year-old, refitted ship that was weighed down with 220 cars as well as the passengers.

"It's a roll-on, roll-off ferry, and there is big question mark over the stability of this kind of ship," said David Osler of the London shipping paper Lloyds List. "It would only take a bit of water to get on board this ship and it would be all over. ... The percentage of this type of ferry involved in this type of disaster is huge."

Weather may also have been a factor. There were high winds and a sandstorm overnight on Saudi Arabia's west coast.

Officials said more than 185 bodies were recovered while hundreds remained missing in the dark, chilly sea nearly 24 hours after the ship went down. One lifeboat was spotted from a helicopter during the day bobbing in the waves with what appeared to be about a dozen or more passengers.

This is an aerial image from TV which shows people in a dinghy in the Red Sea, Friday, Feb. 3, 2006.
This is an aerial image from TV which shows people in a dinghy in the Red Sea, Friday, Feb. 3, 2006.[AP]


Hundreds of angry relatives of the passengers crowded for hours outside Egypt's port of Safaga, where the ferry had been heading. They shouted at police barring the iron gates and complained they had no information on their loved ones.

"This is a dirty government, may God burn their hearts as they burned mine," one woman wailed, slapping her face in grief. "I want my brother. I have no one else in this life."

A Transport Ministry spokesman said 314 people, including a 3-year-old child, were rescued.

Some of the survivors were taken from the ferry's lifeboats, others from inflatable rescue craft dropped into the sea by helicopters, and others were pulled from the water wearing life jackets, the governor of Red Sea province, Bakr al-Rashidi, told The Associated Press.

A police official at the operations control room in Safaga said 185 bodies were pulled from the sea. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Well after nightfall, there were contradictory reports whether any survivors had been brought to shore. A security official said 20 had been sent to a Safaga hospital, but police at the port's entrance told families none was back. Police ringed the hospital.

Rescue efforts also appeared confused. Egyptian officials initially turned down a British offer to divert a warship to the scene and a U.S. offer to send a P3-Orion maritime naval patrol aircraft to the area. The British craft, HMS Bulwark, headed from the southern Red Sea where it was operating, then turned around when the offer was rejected.

But then Egypt reversed itself and asked for both the Orion and the Bulwark to be sent then finally decided to call off the Bulwark, deciding it was too far away to help, said Lt. Cdr. Charlie Brown of the U.S. 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain. In the end, the Orion which has the capability to search underwater from the air was sent, but the Bulwark was not, he said.

Page: 123



Ben Bernanke sworn in as 14th Fed chairman
Saddam stands for trial
US, Mexican police find largest ever border drug tunnel
 
  Today's Top News     Top World News
 

Most of 1,400 on Egypt ferry feared lost

 

   
 

Outbound travelling jumps 50-fold in 20 years

 

   
 

US says risk of war with China diminishing

 

   
 

FM maps out blueprint for EU-China ties

 

   
 

Survey: Education key to reducing crime

 

   
 

Anger over images of Mohammad spreads

 

   
  Iran threatens full-scale enrichment work
   
  Australian PM seeks apology from US senator on corruption claims
   
  Negroponte: Al-Qaida biggest terror threat
   
  Muslim anger unabated over prophet cartoons
   
  Atom agency seen reporting Iran to Security Council
   
  US lawmakers push bill to cut aid to Palestinians
   
 
  Go to Another Section  
 
 
  Story Tools  
   
  Related Stories  
   
Egypt ship with 1,400 aboard sinks, many feared dead
   
At least 30 wounded in bomb attack on ferry in southern Philippines
   
Egyptian ferry carrying 1,300 sinks in Red Sea
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?  
Manufacturers, Exporters, Wholesalers - Global trade starts here.
Advertisement