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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 April 2006, 23:10 GMT 00:10 UK
Egypt ferry probe raps officials
By Heba Saleh
BBC News, Cairo

The al-Salam Boccaccio (undated photo)
More than 1,000 people died when the ferry sank in February
An investigation into the sinking of an Egyptian ferry has blamed the ship's owners, the maritime authorities and the government.

Over 1,000 people were killed when the al-Salam Boccaccio 98 sank in the Red Sea on 3 February.

Only 388 people survived the disaster, which occurred when the ferry was crossing from Saudi Arabia to Egypt.

The parliamentary panel which carried out the investigation found the ship had not met minimum safety standards.

The investigation found that there was "wicked collaboration" between the company which owned the Egyptian ferry and the maritime authorities.

It said the ferry failed to meet minimum safety standards and that the agency responsible for maritime safety allowed it to sail despite being aware of its state.

Gone abroad

The ferry apparently did not have enough lifeboats and fire-fighting equipment.

The parliamentary investigation also criticised the Egyptian government for its handling of the crisis.

More than 1,000 passengers died when the ferry sank 70 km (43 miles) off the Egyptian coast.

A fire had broken out on board shortly after it left Saudi Arabia, but the captain refused to turn back. The crew tried to extinguish the fire but the ship started to list to one side and then it sank.

Most of the passengers were poor Egyptian workers coming back from Saudi Arabia.

Public opinion was shocked at the huge death toll and there was more outrage when it emerged that the owner of the ferry, a well-connected businessman, was allowed to leave the country before investigations were completed.

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