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High death toll expected in ferry sinking

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High death toll expected in ferry sinking


Hope is fading that there will be large numbers of survivors following the sinking of a ferry in the Red Sea off Egypt.

It is thought around a hundred people who escaped the disaster have been brought to the port of Safaga. That is where the al-Salam 98 was sailing to with some 1,300 people on board when it went down in mysterious circumstances. Officials say 45 bodies have been recovered but that the death toll is expected to rise significantly because it has been so many hours since the vessel sank. Most of the passengers were Egyptians working in Saudi Arabia. The vessel was crossing from the Saudi port of Duba to Safaga on Egypt’s Red Sea coast. It had originally come from Jeddah, main port for the haj pilgrimage. The ferry sank nearly 100km off the nearby port of Hurghada. It is understood there was bad weather in the region. The ferry should have reached Safaga at 2 a.m. local time but did not arrive. Contact was lost at some point during the night. Another ferry travelling the same route reportedly received a distress message in which the al Salam captain said his ship was in danger of sinking. Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, has ordered an inquiry into the tragedy. His spokesman said it should focus on the speed with which it occurred and safety measures on the ship.
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