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Last Updated: Monday, 6 February 2006, 15:37 GMT
Relatives attack sunk ferry firm
Relatives of ferry victims burning objects
Relatives have been forced to wait days for news
Relatives of hundreds of passengers killed when a ferry sank in the Red Sea on Friday have attacked the offices of the ship's owners.

A crowd broke into Al-Salam Maritime's offices in Safaga, Egypt, and began throwing the contents onto the street.

Family members also tried to storm a hospital in the town of Hurghada after it displayed photographs of bodies recovered from the sea.

Around 1,000 people are thought to have drowned when the ferry sank.

About 1,400 people were on board the al-Salam Boccaccio '98 when it sank after a fire broke out on Thursday evening.

Angry scenes

Governor of Red Sea province Bakr al-Rashidi told the Associated Press news agency that 388 of those on board were known to have survived. The number of bodies recovered from the sea had reached 244, he said.

We understand that people would like information but we don't have it
Spokesman Magdi Radi

The Egyptian police said on Sunday that more than 400 survivors had been rescued and 195 bodies recovered.

Funerals for some of the ferry victims are due to take place in Cairo later on Monday.

The accident has prompted accusations of negligence, and the anger of relatives has increased because of a lack of information about their loved ones.

Riot police used teargas to restore order after family members destroyed furniture and attacked a fire engine at the offices of the ship's owners in Safaga.

There were also angry scenes outside a hospital in the port town of Hurghada, 40 miles (65 km) to the north, after police officers displayed photographs of those who had drowned on the ferry.

Family members broke through security barriers but failed to enter the hospital. The hospital is allowing small groups to enter the morgue to identify their family members.

Compensation

Egyptian government spokesman Magdi Radi said that the authorities were doing their best.

"We understand that people would like information, but we don't have it," he told the BBC.

"What we have is either the names of the living or the bodies of the dead, which we are trying to identify," Mr Radi said.

He said 60 bodies had been identified in Cairo and returned to family members.

Most of the passengers were Egyptians working in Saudi Arabia, and others were said to be pilgrims returning from Mecca.

Relatives' anger at the lack of information has grown as more details have been released about what happened to the ship, the BBC's Ian Pannell in Safaga says.

The rescue mission is reported to have been launched several hours after the ferry sank.

And the crew are accused of ignoring warnings to evacuate after the fire broke out on board and the ship began to list.

The government's offer of $5,000 (2,837) to every family has done little to appease the anger.

"Is this what an Egyptian's life is worth?" one man asked.


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