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Egyptian Passenger Ship Sinks With 1,318 Aboard

A horrific story out of Egypt:

Dozens of Bodies From Egyptian Ship Found

An Egyptian passenger ship carrying about 1,300 people sank in the Red Sea overnight during bad weather, and rescue ships arriving at the scene Friday pulled dozens of bodies from the water, an official said. About 30 survivors were rescued, some in lifeboats.

An Egyptian Embassy spokesman told the British Broadcasting Corp. that "dozens of bodies of victims" had been pulled from the choppy 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 cause was unknown.

Britain's top naval officer said he had diverted a warship to the north Red Sea site and it will arrive within two days.

But Ayman al-Kaffas, a spokesman for the Egyptian Embassy in London, told the BBC that "a massive search-and-rescue effort" was underway, and "dozens of bodies of victims" had been pulled from the water.

"We have spotted several lifeboats with live passengers that we are trying to get to," al-Kaffas said. "It's a challenging operation due to the bad weather conditions."

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 arrive at Egypt's port of Safaga _ 120 miles away _ eight hours later.

The ship disappeared from radar screens shortly after sailing, maritime officials in Suez said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

Helicopters sent up soon after the vessel disappeared saw bodies floating in the water and at least one lifeboat carrying three people, Egyptian maritime officials said.

Nizam Siddiqui of Lloyd's of London said he had ruled out a collision or terrorist attack as the cause of the accident because the area was well-patrolled.

"The rough weather must have been the main factor for bringing this vessel down," he told the BBC from Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, adding that the ship was "very well-maintained."

The agent for the ship in Saudi Arabia, Farid al-Douadi, said the vessel was in good condition. The passengers were mostly Egyptians but included Saudis, Sudanese and other nationalities.

Marzouk said the ship _ built in 1971 and renovated in 1990 in an Egyptian shipyard _ was carrying 1,318 people, including a crew of 96. It also was carrying about 220 vehicles.

So far it looks from various reports like they have saved a little over 100 people out of the 1,318.

Let's hope the rescue efforts are more effective than they sound like they've been so far.


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Comments (7)

The prognosis is not good. ... (Below threshold)

The prognosis is not good. The ship sank at night during a storm. Most of the passengers probably went down with the ship. Those that did get off are allready disbursed over a wide area and it's getting wider (the currents in the Red are a bitch).

My opinion, as a former Coast Guardsman, is that it will be a lucky break to recover as many as 200 living. I'm impressed that 100 have been recovered so soon. Most of the rest will have to be listed as lost at sea, as their bodies will not be found at all.

The best at-sea rescue apparatus in the world could not count on more than I've seen so far. They are doing a good job in near impossible conditions. Don't disparage their efforts without understanding how bloody hard it is.

I suspect the ship was gros... (Below threshold)
Corky Boyd:

I suspect the ship was grossly overloaded. From the photo posted on Drudge, there appear to be 5 (possibly only 4) lifeboats on the starboard side. That would mean 1300 crew and passengers for 10 lifeboats or 130 per lifeboat.

Can you believe they turned... (Below threshold)

Can you believe they turned down an offer from the Israeli Navy? I suppose they would prefer to be dead than be rescued by the Jews.

cubanbob:A little ... (Below threshold)


A little perspective might be in order: The Egyptians declined all "international offers of search and rescue assistance", not just from Israel. At least, initially.

From other reports, Egypt rejected then accepted a US ship; but a British ship was turned away. Sounds like Saudi ships are also heavily involved as well. Given this, it's unreasonable to asusme (at the moment) that the Egyptians declined Israeli help simply based on them being Jewish.

NW Neo, You could ... (Below threshold)

NW Neo,

You could not be more hopelessly wrong when you state:

Given this, it's unreasonable to asusme (at the moment) that the Egyptians declined Israeli help simply based on them being Jewish.

Muslims have a long history of spurning any and all direct aid offered by Israel, and this was merely an extension of that bigoted tradition. Muslim terrorists and support in these nations for terrorism have made Israeli disaster response teams among the very best in the world.

For Muslims, it is a matter of saving face.

If it hasn't occured already, Muslims will begin blaming Israel for sinking the ferry within days. It is simply the way their diseased minds work.

By this time tomorrow, an Israeli submarine will have been spotted firing torpedoes, or mine-carrying divers wearing Israeli flags as capes will have been reported swimming toward the ship.

It is pathetic. It is dishonest. But it is what you can expect.

CY:You honestly do... (Below threshold)


You honestly do not have to preach to me about the bald-faced and diseased anti-Semitism of entirely too many Muslims. I'm right with you on that one, friend.

However, the Egyptians also rejected US and British as well. Why? Who knows at this point, maybe the Egyptians think they can recover all the bodies. And I agree, they may have rejected all help in order to save face...probably.

But "probably" isn't enough. To make such an illogical and assumptive leap without confirmed and known facts is dangerous in that it just forments unwarranted hatred and anger. (I'm all for condemning should the rejection turn out to be based soley on anti-Semetism.) Like you, I wouldn't it past the Egyptians/Muslims to have rejected Israeli help and I wouldn't put it past al Jazeera to make up such stories. But I until know all the facts, I must reserve judgement. To do so otherwise is to be unfair.

Like when the Tsunami hit in Christmas 2004 and Muslim countries were known and found to be rejecting Israeli aid, I immediately thought we should cease and desist our efforts. But I waited until I had the facts...then I got mad.

NWNeo,you do have a ... (Below threshold)

you do have a point about them always saving face, particularly if the aid extended is from Jews. funny thing though they are never embarrassed enough not to take a cash donation.






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