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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Friday, February 03, 2006

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.


At 2/03/2006 11:39:00 AM, Blogger Rancher said...

My prayers go out to the families affected by this tragedy. Certainly a free Egyptian press can get to the bottom of this, yes?

At 2/03/2006 12:08:00 PM, Blogger Egypeter said...

"A free Egyptian press?" No such thing exists in Egypt my friend.

What an aweful aweful tragedy!

Why the hell did Muburak initially not allow the Brits and Americans to help.

Surely they are more capable than the Egyptians in finding and rescuing the poor survivors. Or at the very least they could've helped in saving lives.

Is "national pride" more important to Muburak than the lives of the Egyptian people???

I've been watching Fox News this afternoon and they're saying that there might have been a terrorist element involved but they're not sure...it may have just been bad weather.

Titanic disaster of 1912 - 1496 dead (plus one Leonardo DiCaprio)

Egyptian Al Salaam disaster - hope for the best but may be similar.

My prayers and sympathy to all those Egyptians and their families.

At 2/03/2006 12:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Egypeter, maybe Muburak didn't allow them to help because it wouldn't have made a difference. I hate to see something like this happen, it is a tragedy.


At 2/03/2006 01:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry.

At 2/03/2006 02:11:00 PM, Blogger Strabo the Lesser said...

The ferry company lied about the capacity of the ship.

At 2/03/2006 02:55:00 PM, Blogger Crazy Girl said...

Those poor people..

At 2/03/2006 03:25:00 PM, Anonymous Erik said...

I am so sorry for them, my heart goes out to the families.

Erik - Danish

At 2/03/2006 03:30:00 PM, Anonymous Kathy K said...

From what I read just recently, they've found some more alive - latest report I saw said at least 300 - but that's not that many, which I'm afraid may mean the majority did not survive. I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

My sympathy to all those who have lost friends and loved ones.

At 2/03/2006 04:26:00 PM, Anonymous Tina said...

What terrifies me is that more may be still alive and trapped inside the sunken ship. There are air pockets that contain enough air for people to survive for hours. Does anyone know how far down the ship is? Have they sent down divers?

My heart breaks for all of them, those who are lost and those who remain behind. May God rest their souls and may He comfort the families.

At 2/03/2006 05:33:00 PM, Anonymous Peter-Australia said...

I would like to add my sympathies for the loss of all these people. I will be praying for them.

I think I know who will be blamed for the loss of life thought... you guessed it America and Britain.

In 2001 the SIEV X (suspected inlegal entry vehicle) sank off the Indonesian coast. Of the 421 passengers 44 survived. Australia has since been attacked for not saving them, ignoring the presence of the boat and even sabotaging the boat itself.

Funnily Indonesia seems to have missed out on much of the attacks from the media and left leaning groups even though passengers who refused to board the boat when they saw its condition say that they were forced to board by Indonesian police.

Why blame a corrupt country when you can blame America, Britain, Australia or another Western(?) nation?

At 2/03/2006 05:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

' "Egypeter, maybe Muburak didn't allow them to help because it wouldn't have made a difference. I hate to see something like this happen, it is a tragedy.

-Mike '

How could one know it would not make a difference unless all bodies (alive and dead) had already been recovered?

The cost-benefit ratio has the cost low (interference with rescue, etc.), so even if the benefit is low, it is worth it since there is negligible harm. Am I missing something here Mike?

At 2/03/2006 06:41:00 PM, Anonymous Kjartan said...

God save their souls.

At 2/03/2006 07:08:00 PM, Anonymous Adrian from Denmark said...

My condolences.

Accidents of such dimension makes all other problems pale in comparison.

At 2/03/2006 07:13:00 PM, Blogger Crazy Girl said...

Come on.. We all know that there is no way in hell that boat was safe and secure.. Since when is Egypt ever concerned about safety standards?

The Egyptian government didn't want interference because they don't want anyone to uncover that the boat was unsafe.. We are just going to blame it on some natural cause.. We are so great at cover ups.. Its never our fault or some Egyptian fault. I highly doubt if there was a life jacket on bored anyone even knew how to use it.

I bet all those poor families don't even get so much as an apology for their mistake. How do they make up for all those lives that are lost? That damn company that owned the ferry should be closed down.. Sickening..

At 2/03/2006 08:00:00 PM, Blogger azul gritóceo said...

My thoughts are in Egypt. I try to manage to pray for these people.. The still missed ones and those who had gone.Florian,Germany

At 2/03/2006 11:23:00 PM, Anonymous simplecomment said...

Peter in Australia I am outraged and disgusted by your comments. How dare you blame the west when it was obviously the Joooooooooooos.
or perhaps since the muslims are fond of attributing calamities that occur in the west on punishments from God..maybe god is punishing muslims for picking on the Danes...
Sorry under normal conditions I'd have nothing but sympathy for the victims but I am still filled with disgust over this nonsense about the cartoons

At 2/03/2006 11:37:00 PM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

It's really sad. This probably happened because some guys saved on security.

At 2/04/2006 01:16:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what the Saudis will have to say about this horrible tragedy? With all their money,you'd think they could afford to buy a new ferry to transport their Egyptian workers,ya know? Dan

At 2/04/2006 04:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Scandinavian governments all offered search and rescue support and medical help, but apparently never received an answer - probably due to a certain other controversy.

At 2/04/2006 04:03:00 AM, Anonymous Blower said...

This is really bad news and god bless them. I heard that the ferry was not allowed to sail the European seas as it was not as per its standards. Who in charge of defining the standards of teh Red Sea? I hope there will accountability at the end of they day for whoever was charged!

At 2/04/2006 05:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just in,the captian took a boat for himself and just ran the fuck away,a full boat from him self.he was the first to leave.

At 2/04/2006 06:04:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, leave the poor captain be. He was so scared and the passengers should be able to take care of themselves - they are grown up people after all!

At 2/04/2006 07:11:00 AM, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

For what it is worth, my condolences to the families of the victims, it was a terrible tragedy.

As to assigning the blame, while don't we wait for an investigation to be concluded. I hope the results will be made public.

At 2/04/2006 07:29:00 AM, Anonymous Jokerman said...

Mubarak has nothing to do with turning down the British ship´s offer, that isnt his job!
I guess it would be the mistake of the coast guards, egyptian maritime authority but not mubarak, he cannot be responsible for every small detail.
Its a tragedy what happened, it seems a fire started in the cargo hold & the passengeres alerted the captain who told them it was ok. The crew asked the passengers to take off the livejackets they wore & took them away then the ship began to sink & the first to abandon was the captain & his crew!!!! Those who died didnt just die of negligence but of utter selfishness & betrayal of the crew.

At 2/04/2006 11:29:00 AM, Anonymous Mohamed said...

Peter-Australia and simplecomment, both of you are just ugly and disgusting, more than a 1000 people are dead and still you couldn't repress your hate and despise for them for at least a day , and you turn the whole thing into a hateful preassumed hypothesis about who's going to get blamed, and what are you trying to imply simplecomment? that those people deserved to die or that you couldn't care less because of the danish thing, how are you connecting both incidents you hateful nazi.
And Sandmonkey, a month ago you among others got all worked up against me with an overdose of patriotic testosterone and "national pride" because I was against your generaliztion of the palestinians, and that I didn't value egyptians' life, how come neither you nor your fellow "patriots" didn't have anything to say to those two animals.

At 2/05/2006 12:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel so sorry for the victims and their families.

The captain and the crew must be protected from harm, so they can tell what happened. And Anon 6.04 the captain is responsible for the ship and the passengers - that is his job and the passengers trusted him. Should all passengers bring their own life-jackets and rescue boats?

I hope an investigation will find out how it could happen, so that measures can be taken that it will never happen again.
Who was responsible for the ships condition?
And if the ship wasn't fit to sail then who let the ship sail?

And yes the Scandinavian countries offered help and didn't get an answer. The coast guard must have worked hard to organize the search and rescue of victims the best way they could.
If the coast guard turned down an offer of help from anyone in the light of certain other controversies or political reasons, then an investigation should uncover this aspect too. But that seems unbeliveable to me.

From Scandinavia

At 2/05/2006 01:12:00 AM, Blogger Ron Larson said...

Man, that is terrible. What a horrible way to die. My condolences.

My thought on this is what happened to Saudi Arabia? Doesn't the KSA coast guard have the responsibility to assure that (a) commercial vessals in KSA waters meet safety standards, (b) to refuse permission for vessels deems unsafe to enter KSA waters or depart a KSA port?

Everyone knows that the Egyptian government is incompetent in regards to public safety. It was just a matter of time.

But doesn't KSA hold themselves up to a higher standard? If they have barrels of petro-dollars to fund mosques all over the world, then couldn't they fund maritine safety standards on their Red Sea ports?

In other words, why did KSA allow this ship to sail, even if it was registered in another country?

I know that in the US, we have refused to allow some foreign flagged vessels to leave port after being deemed unsafe.

Well... I'm sure both countries have already written this off with the usual "It was God's will" shit.

At 2/05/2006 09:24:00 PM, Blogger Ron Larson said...

What terrifies me is that more may be still alive and trapped inside the sunken ship. There are air pockets that contain enough air for people to survive for hours. Does anyone know how far down the ship is? Have they sent down divers?

You have been watching too many movies. This is not a possibility in these circumstances. The ship sank in deep water. It is at the bottom of the Red Sea, not bobbing upside down on the surface.

First, the pressure would reduce the airpockets to a fraction of their original size. Even if you were trapped in a cabin that was half full of air at the surface, that air would would reduce to a few inches by the weight or the water pressing against it. That gives the person even less of a chance of finding that air.

Second. The deep water is very cold, much colder than on the surface. Even if you could find an air pocket big enough to breath, you would die of exposure pretty quickly.

Third: It is pitch dark. It happened at night. At night, and at that depth, you would not be able to see anything thing, not even your own air bubbles, to determine which was way up.

The book "The Perfect Storm" goes into the process of drowning on a sinking ship in great detail.


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