Many feared dead in Egyptian ferry disaster

Published February 3rd, 2006 - 03:29 GMT

An Egyptian ferry carrying some 1,300 people sank in the Red Sea overnight during bad weather conditions, and rescue ships and helicopters pulled scores of bodies from the water Friday, an official said. Some 100 survivors in lifeboats were rescued, the AP reported.

An Egyptian spokesman told the British Broadcasting Corp. that "dozens of bodies of victims" had been pulled from the waters between Saudi Arabia and Egypt.


The 35-year-old ship, Al-Salaam Boccaccio 98, went down 40 miles off the Egyptian port of Hurghada, the head of the Egyptian Maritime Authority, Mahfouz Taha Marzouk, told The Associated Press. The ship went down between midnight and 2 a.m., a maritime official said. The reason for the disaster was not clear.


There were high winds and a sandstorm overnight on Saudi Arabia's west coast, where the ship departed from. The ship sailed from the Saudi port of Dubah at 7 p.m. Thursday night and was scheduled to reach at Egypt's port of Safaga —eight hours later.


The ship disappeared from radar screens shortly after sailing, maritime officials in Suez said.


The ship was built in 1971 and renovated in 1990 in an Egyptian shipyard. It was carrying 1,318 people, including a crew of 96. It also was carrying some 220 vehicles.


The passengers included about 1,200 Egyptians, 99 Saudis, three Syrians, two Sudanese and a Canadian, the control room official said.


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