Egyptian Ferry sinks, hundreds feared dead
As you probably have heard by now, an Egyptian Ferry carrying 1400 people, most of them are egyptian workers retruning from their jobs in Saudi, had sunk in the Red Sea this morning. Hundreds are feared to be dead. An Egyptian ferry carrying about 1,400 people sank in the Red Sea early Friday during bad weather, and rescue ships and helicopters pulled dozens of survivors and bodies from the water. Some 180 escaped on lifeboats, an official said. Most of the passengers were Egyptian workers returning from their jobs in Saudi Arabia. At least four Saudi and four Egyptian ships were involved in the search effort, arriving about 10 hours after the 35-year-old ferry was believed to have sank.
As darkness descended Friday at the site, some 40 miles off the Egyptian port of Hurghada, there were fears the death toll could be extremely high. Any survivors still in the Red Sea could go into shock as temperatures fell in the already cold waters, which average in the upper 60s in February.
Who to blame for this? Well, I don't know, but I am formulating a theory.Egyptian regulations require life jackets on the boat, but implementation of safety procedures are often lax. It was not known if the ship had enough life jackets and whether the passengers put them on when the ship sank. But surely you can't blame the Egyptian authorities for this you may say. They must've tried everything in their power to save those passengers, right? Well, here is what they said: Four Egyptian frigates have sailed to rescue survivors, Egypt's minister of transport, Mohammed Lutfy Mansour, told CNN shortly before the sinking of the ship was announced.
"The Coast Guard is doing every in its power to try to rescue these people," Mansour said.
Here is what they actually did:Rescue efforts appeared confused. Egyptian officials initially turned down a British offer to divert a warship to the scene to help out and a U.S. offer to send a P3-Orion maritime naval patrol aircraft to the area. The British craft, HMS Bulwark, headed toward 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, said Cdr. Jeff Breslau, a spokesman for the U.S. 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain. The Bulwark is part of a Dutch-controlled multinational task force, which includes assets from the 5th Fleet and British navy.
Saudi ships were patrolling waters off their shore to hunt for survivors, but found none, a senior Saudi security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
But surely there was enough lifeboats for everyone, right?An official at the maritime authority control room in Suez said at least 20 bodies and 30 survivors were pulled from the water. He said about 150 more survivors were still known to be on lifeboats. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. 150 out of 1400 on lifeboats. Slightly over 10%. Damn. "The ship complied with all necessary safety measures," Egyptian Transport Minister Mohammed Lutfy Mansour told Egypt's semiofficial Middle East News Agency. "The reasons (for sinking) remain unknown." [...]
Hundreds of relatives of the passengers complained bitterly about lack of information as they waited in the Egyptian port of Safaga, where the ship had been scheduled to dock at 3 a.m. Friday.
"There is nobody ... to tell us what is going on," said Ahmed Abdul Hamid, a teacher from the southern Egyptian city of Assuit who was waiting for his cousin. "We are in a complete blackout."
"How can they put all these passengers in such an old ship that was not fit for sailing?" he asked, adding "somebody should be blamed."
I agree. Somebody should be.Update: Egyptian officials now say that they managed to save 314 people. Wow, 314 out of 1400. What an amazing feat. Someone deserves a medal. As for the dead, well..
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.
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."
What's even worse, is that the company that owns this Ferry has been involved in another deadly accident, just last october.A ship owned by the same company, also carrying pilgrims, collided with a cargo ship at the southern entrance to the Suez Canal in October, causing a stampede among passengers trying to escape the sinking ship. Two people were killed and 40 injured. Unbelievable.