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Monday, February 06, 2006

Ship Owners Mobbed in Ferry Sinking

Yesterday, I told you all about an Egyptian ferry that sank enroute from Saudi Arabia to Egypt on Thursday night. I also hinted to you that I thought that the Egyptian authorities were trying to inpement a coverup. Today, relatives of passengers on the ferry have mobbed the ship owners' offices:

Ship Owners Mobbed in Ferry Sinking

SAFAGA, Egypt (AP) -- Hundreds of relatives of passengers on a ferry that sank in the Red Sea attacked the offices of the ship's owners Monday, throwing furniture into the street and tearing down the company's sign. Riot police fired tear gas to restore order.

Family members also tried to storm a hospital in another port town after it displayed photographs of bodies retrieved from the sea. They told authorities they wanted inside to identify the bodies in the hospital morgue.

The relatives are desperate to know whether their loved ones were among the more than 1,000 who drowned and they say El Salam Maritime still has not released the victims' names. They also accuse Egypt's government of mishandling the rescue.

The Al-Salaam Boccaccio 98 sank in the Red Sea early Friday on its way from Saudi Arabia to the Egyptian port of Safaga.

The governor of Red Sea province, Bakr al-Rashidi, said Monday that only 388 of the more than 1,400 people on board were known to have survived. This was 13 people fewer than the survivor total given by Egyptian police on Sunday, but there was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.

Most of the passengers were low-income Egyptians returning from working in Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries.

Riot police who had been guarding the port gates rushed to the ferry company's offices and dispersed the rioters with tear gas after the relatives attacked the company's offices early Monday. One civilian was seen holding his head in pain. It was not immediately known how he was injured. Some rioters set fire to tires on roads leading to the port.

Al-Rashidi told The Associated Press he was not aware of the violence.


Independent Egyptian newspapers have accused Mubarak's government of protecting the ship's owner, who they say is close to a top official in government.

Read it all.


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