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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 February 2006, 14:49 GMT
Egyptian ferry sinks: Your comments
The al-Salam Boccaccio 98. Photo: El-Salam website

More than 900 people remain missing after a ferry carrying about 1,400 passengers sank in the Red Sea.

Survivors said a fire broke out on board the ship early in its voyage from Saudi Arabia to Egypt.

Around 350 survivors have been rescued, officials say, but most of the people on board the al-Salam Boccaccio '98 are feared lost.

If you have any information you would like to share with the BBC, send us your comments using the form.


This debate is now closed. Below are a selection of comments sent in by BBC news website readers.

A dreadful tragedy; one that could have been avoided but for the scandalous disregard for safety checks on many transport systems in Egypt. The tragedy has been compounded by the treatment of the victim's families - instead of being offered comfort and support, such as counsellors, they are confronted by riot police and a deafening official silence.
John Grainger, Cairo

It just goes to show that whatever the religion or ethnicity, there are lots of people who are deeply upset and using this site to let the world know how sorry they are about this terrible event. I understand a fire onboard was the problem and not enough life rafts and life jackets. Shame on the owners of such a ship. They should be prosecuted.
Beryl Shannon, Cambridge, Canada

All TV news (Arabic & European) doesn't give me a sense of what happen, but I understand from one of the rescued passenger that a fire was on board, as they saw a lot of smoke. And yet no body saw the fire. So I can say that a fire was in the engine spaces and any explosion of machinery could makes holes in the underwater ship's structure so the sea water entrance and maybe the watertight doors were not closed at time or not operating well could sink the ship in the minimum of time.
Taoufik, Tangier, Morocco

No one in this tragedy is speaking of the behaviour of the Captain who refused to accept that fire was beyond his crew's control, failure to transmit a distress signal call, and then - his choice to flee the ship in the first life boat!
Al, NYC, USA

This ship was known, when it was last sold on, to be not fit for purpose. You can't sell a faulty light-bulb but you can sell a faulty ferry.
Ewan Lamont, Edinburgh, UK

My thoughts are with those who fear they have lost loved ones. In Scandinavia, the trauma from the "Estonia" ferry disaster where more that 700 persons lost their lives are still in vivid memory. We can only hope that more lives can be saved this time.
Peter, Stockholm, Sweden

I think it's high time that shipping standards in the Middle East and Asia should be updated with those in Europe of America. If this ship was sold because it was not deemed fit for European operations, then why should the Egyptians and Saudis sail in it?
Cesar Fabunan, Quezon City, Philippines

We simply don't learn and I am sure that if our media and government don't move fast, we should expect the worst
Ashraf Ezzeldine, Egyptian in Kuwait
Like millions of Egyptians, I feel so hurt, angry, depressed and shocked as well of this unjustifiable tragedy. It is not the first and we all know it won't be the last as it is a continuation for a series of deadly accidents killing innocent people caused by the killing and destructive habit that has been witnessed in Egypt over the past years and growing now in a very horrifying way. This ugly habit is carelessness. What more should happen so our government and media can wake up and start facing the roots of this ugly habit which we became very famous for? We still remember the fire of Bany Swaif theatre and thought it will be a lesson for all Egyptians. We simply don't learn and I am sure that if our media and government don't move fast, we should expect the worst. It is time to get rid of our stupid way of dealing with crises, and lack of planning.
Ashraf Ezzeldine, Egyptian in Kuwait

Accidents happen everywhere but in Egypt they often happen because the standards of safety and maintenance are either out of date or are not adhered to at all. God's name is often used or misused rather than human negligence from the highest level. It appears that all the people get from the Egyptian government is a lot of sweet talk and little action. Mr Mubarak please do not just say it, do it and give people what matters to life such as safe transport, clean water, and equal access to good health care. This is an integral part of freedom.
Nabil Zakher, UK

35 years is too old for all types of vessels, especially for passenger ships and what about the last audit, survival crafts and insurance companies?
Allahdad, Shiraz, Iran

The ship only had 10 lifeboats, each with a carrying capacity of some 50 people. i.e. boats for 500. Given that some 1400 souls were on board the ferry, major loss of life was inevitable in such tragic circumstances . British cross channel ferries are no difffent. They are exempt from having to carry lifeboats for 100% of passengers, by the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency. This is because they are operating on what is officially termed a "short" sea voyage. This exemption is given my most member states of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to their own vessels. The IMO is the UN agency charged with regulating shipping. It is headquartered in London.
Tim Frawley, Epsom

I have rarely seen such hospitality and courtesy extended as when I was in Egypt: my sympathies go out to all those involved.
Sarah, Nottingham

Rajaram, Muscat, Oman
Accidents can happen; the Egyptian ferry sinking is a catastrophe for poor people who choose ferry transport to travel across the country. What is the role of respective governments in safeguarding the lives of their countrymen? Governments should take stringent measures to pre-check each and every ferry before they are allowed to sail. After sailing what is the role of various government to monitor safety of such vessels on high seas? They must have coordinated pre-determined arrangements of coast guard vessel with helicopters attached to monitor such vessels till they reach destination. If money is involved governments should insist a nominal 'protection fee' as premium for using funds run such operations in the interest of safeguarding human lives. Why only Kings, Presidents, Prime Ministers or any chief executive of different country enjoys 'escort aircraft', or naval vessel's privilege when they go out of country. Why not ordinary person whose is also as important as any VIP?
Rajaram, Muscat, Oman

Hopefully this disaster will lead to an enquiry which will then lead to safety measures which will ensure that this sort of tragedy is never repeated. Or am I being too optimistic after seeing the way that the Egyptian officials have dealt with anxious relatives of those on board? My heartfelt sympathy to all those who have been directly affected by the sinking.
Fiona, Insch, Scotland

This is an absolutely disgraceful situation. It's about time that all passenger liners worldwide are not allowed to be sold on without being thoroughly investigated for sea worthiness adequate passenger accommodation and the most sickening situation once again of enough lifeboats. Has this world not learnt yet from the Titanic nearly 100 years ago? I for one am extremely suspicious of a ship that appears to be so top heavy. How on earth is a vessel of this design supposed to be able to stand loss of power on a rough sea with waves hitting at its sides?
John, Silves, Portugal

This news was an unbearable for me and all my family. Hope it wont occur again in future for our dear Egyptian friends.
Afsheen, Iran

I feel sad to hear the news. I am really sorry for the Egyptian people. God bless them.
Marjan, Iran

I am deeply sorry to hear about the ferry accident. May the almighty God help everyone to be strong!!!
Lukiah, San Antonio, Texas, USA

I feel so hurt, angry, depressed and shocked
Ashraf Ezzeldine, Egyptian in Kuwait
Like millions of Egyptians, I feel so hurt, angry, depressed and shocked as well of this unjustifable tragedy. It is not the first and we all know it won't be the last as it is a continuation for a series of deadly accidents killing innocent people. What more should happen so our government and media can wake up and start facing the roots of this ugly habit which we became very famous for? We simply don't learn and I am sure that if our media, and government don't move FAST, we should expect the worst. I'm so worried about the future of my beloved country, childern and family.
Ashraf Ezzeldine, Egyptian in Kuwait

It appears that all the people get from the Egyptian government is a lot of sweet talk and little action. Mr Mubarak, please do not just say it, do it and give people what matters to life, such as safe transport, clean water, equal access to good health care.This is an integral part of freedom.
Nabil Zakher, UK

I think its high time that shipping standards in the Middle East and Asia should be updated with those in Europe of America. If this ship was sold because it was not deemed fit for European operations, then why should the Egyptians and Saudis sail in it?
Cesar Fabunan, Quezon City, Philippines

I hope that the BBC News Dept will interview the people who sold the sunk ferry and question its viability, in view of earlier disasters in the English Channel, and their ethics in selling it if they knew it would be used as a ferry.
Cyrillusrex, Preston UK

It's quite sad that something as silly as a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed upsetting people is overshadowing a tragedy such as this.
Simon, England

The tragedy has been compunded by the treatment of the victims' families
John Grainger, Cairo
The tragedy has been compunded by the treatment of the victims' families - instead of being offered comfort and support, such as counsellors, they are confronted by riot police and a deafening official silence.
John Grainger, Cairo

All TV news (Arabic & European) does not give me a sense of what happen, but I understand from one of the rescued passenger that a fire was on board due to a lot of smoke seeing and nobody has seeing the fire.
Captain Taoufik, Tangier, Morocco

That is really burnning my heart as a human living in the beautiful world of Humanity! The condolence of my heart's walls is there with their families and relatives. It is a big lost from the quota of Humans.
Abdul Malik Achakzai, Spin Boldak, Kandahar, Afghanistan.

I have finally come to this site. It is absolutely strange that very little news on this horrible tragedy. My husband and I have been very much concerned on this, but the news hardly appear in any of the Japanese newspaper. We want to send our deep condolence and hope the fact will be discovered and that there will be no such tragedy in this 21st century.
Y.Takamatsu, Japan

Is the international community helping??
Mariana, Cairo

I am deeply sorry to hear about the ferry accident. May the almighty God help everyone be strong!!!
Lukiah, San Antonio, Texas, USA

Saudi and Egyptian goverments are requested to tighten safety procedures
Naser Alotaibi, Kuwait

May Allah help the victims and their families. Saudi and Egyptian goverments are requested to tighten safety procedures between them.
Naser Alotaibi, Kuwait

Not knowing an awful lot about ships. Is it possible that people could still be trapped in air pockets in the ship? Nothing has been mentioned about this on the few news items I have watched. Have divers been sent down?
Wendy, Chesterfield, England

I am so sad to hear the tragic news about the al-Salam ferry. May Allah bless the survivors' courage and patience to cope with the tragedy and those who perish in the accident, may Allah bless their souls. In the meantime, I would like to request all the security departments, land, air and sea to be very very vigilant and perform their duties with honesty and courage.
Abdul Qayum Ghouri, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

It is a very sad tragedy and on behalf of all the Muslims of the United Kingdom, I take this opportunity to express our deepest heart felt sorrow and condolences to the families of those who have lost their loved ones. May Allah bless the departed souls with the highest planes in heaven. Amen.
Saqib Khan, London, UK

This news was an unbearable for me and all my family. Hope it wont occur again in future for our dear Egyptian friends.
Afsheen, Iran

I feel sad to hear the news.I am really sorry for the Egyptian people. God blees them.
Marjan, Iran

I am very sorry to learn this, I would like to express my deepest condolence to bereaved families.
Munib, Kabul, Afghanistan

This is the most tragic transportation accident in Egypt's recent history. Such accidents are not uncommon in Egypt, and almost all of them were caused by negligence and lack of the minimum safety measures. Ironically enough, according to a report issued recently by the Egyptian ministry of transportation, the number of Egyptian citizens who died in transportation accidents have exceeded the number of those Egypt lost in all its wars against Israel. Despite the President's order to enquire the circumstances of the disaster, no one will be held responsible, and it will, like many others, sink into oblivion.
Mohamed El-Sayed, Cairo, Egypt

I am too upset to hear this event. I hope that this event is only an accident. It has upset people all around the world. God help them.
Umut Aytekin, Ankara, Turkey

This is an absolutely disgraceful situation. It's about time that all passenger liners worldwide are not allowed to be sold on without being thoroughly investigated for sea worthiness adequate passenger accommodation and the most sickening situation once again of enough lifeboats. Has this world not learnt yet from the Titanic nearly 100 years ago?
Mr Derek Frost, Southampton, UK

This is a disaster which could have been prevented if the Egyptian authorities strictly imposed the security checks on such ferries.
Saurabh Singh Chib, Jabalpur, India

It is tragic and I pray for their souls.
Michael, Pittsburgh USA

Elderly passenger vessels like this are a common sight in the Red Sea
Robert Guttman, Tappan, New York, USA
I have been a merchant marine officer for 30 years and have often seen vessels like this. The fact that the crew never sent any distress signal indicates that whatever happened must have happened very fast. That means either she capsized or the cargo doors suddenly opened up. Just looking at the photograph, it immediately struck me that at least three, and possibly four, decks have been added to the vessel's superstructure. She looks like a very narrow wedding cake with a couple of extra layers on top. One doesn't need to be a naval architect to imagine the effect such a modification would have on stability. Elderly passenger vessels like this are a common sight in the Red Sea, transporting workers or pilgrims to and from Arabia. This ship was indeed elderly, she is said to have been 35 years old.
Robert Guttman, Tappan, New York, USA

If the picture given by the BBC is accurate it looks like the ship has had a refit of the upper superstructure. It appears that they have added a whole new part to the ship as it looks very top heavy. You can still see the 'old' bridge and line of the ship. How was this approved by the classification bureaus? It might be that it lost engine power and then capsized and sunk. It doesn't look like a car ferry with bow doors ruling flooding out. It is a terrible loss of life and probably, even more terrible, preventable.
James D, Bathgate

Nearly 1,400 lives lost in a few minutes, how can this possibly happen? I feel very very sorry for all the family and hope that the survivors will recover quickly. An investigation must be carried out quickly to find out how this could possibly happen. There is a reason why there is a weight limit and overloading is extremely dangerous. Here we see an unfortunate example.
Kristina Teong, St Albans, England

This vessel's sister ship "Al Salam Petrarca" sank in 2002 due to a collision with a cargo vessel. These Italian vessels were built in the 70s; "Al Salam Boccaccio" was heavily modified prior to entering service in North Africa. The modifications suggest that the vessel's centre of gravity was altered and its stability therefore compromised. This combined with even a few inches of water on a vehicle deck could lead to a severe case of "free surface effect" as vividly demonstrated by the "Herald of Free Enterprise" disaster and the near-miss on the English Channel with "St Christopher".
Chris Potts, London UK

It is an unfortunate situation as it stands. I believe overloading could be the possible problem that caused the sinking of the ferry. It is high time maritime authorities sped up efforts to check up on overloading of vessels.
Yandam L Sillim, Oslo, Norway

God bless the souls of the victims, unfortunately it's almost always the poor and already suffering that suffer the greatest disaster.
Ryan Sadi, Montreal

I can't possibly understand why no s.o.s./mayday was sent out. A ship doesn't sink five minutes no matter what the damage - the rescue of only 26 souls reported means that this is a disaster of terribly proportions - I hope that the lifeboats preserved many more.
Alan Blandford, Southampton, UK

In response to Alex Hislop's question, yes all ships of this type would be fitted with EPIRB or some equivalent which will automatically send out a distress signal to satellite on contact with water. I have head that the RAF did indeed receive such a signal. I expect that the ship sank so fast that there was little or no time to evacuate people.
Philip O'Carroll, Cork, Ireland

I feel very sad at the potentially huge loss of lives in this incident. I feel sorry for the victims who may have suffered or died unnoticed for so many hours at sea. Such poor search and rescue efforts by the authorities sometimes cynically reflects cheap value placed on lives of people from that area as opposed to people living in Europe or the US.
Azahari Ahmad, Bangi, Malaysia

I used to work on an Israeli casino boat back in the eighties. One night we lost all engine power and were blown by the wind to within several hundred metres of the Saudi coast. The winds around the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba can be extremely strong this time of year. I wouldn't rate many peoples chances after being thrown into the sea in those conditions.
Labrat

Upon hearing that the ship was lost without even issuing an SOS I immediately thought of the freak wave phenomenon. Freak waves can be twice the height of waves that most ships are designed to withstand and often present a sheer wall of water rather than a steady incline that most waves have. They occur when the energy from several waves is concentrated either due to refraction/diffraction, wind direction opposing current direction or nonlinear focusing. There is a very nice article about such waves on the BBC horizon site for 2002.
James R Whitehead, Liverpool UK

It is a sad sight to see. Hopefully they can save as many as possible. Lets hope that rescue efforts go well and quickly.
Travis Bennett, Cleveland USA

Our hearts go out to the people affected by this tragic incident. People all over the world will be deeply affected by any loss of life.
John Nantais, Tecumseh Ontario Canada

I believe I speak for all who read this awful news when I say that my thoughts are with the relatives and the survivors. This is an appalling tragedy - and I sincerely hope it was an accident.
Neil Wilkes, London, England

This should come as a wake-up call for most governments. They should make sure that they put a very dependable and reserved rescue mission for extremely urgent cases like these.
Wilfred Nsubuga, Kampala, Uganda

Surely the ship should have been fitted with automatic radio beacons that should have started transmitting as soon as the ship sank. All other commercial ships are so fitted. The beacons float when the ship sinks and broadcast an emergency signal that can be used to home in on.
Alex Hyslop, Singapore

Let us hope the 'rescue mission team' can rescue survivors as much as possible. It is indeed a tragedy that will really shake the Egyptian people and the world at large.
Ibrahim I. Sadiq, Kaduna, Nigeria

My heart goes out to all affected by this tragedy. Things need to happen now and other emergency measures need to be taken to ensure safety and treatment of these people.
Dilshaad Johnstone, London, UK

There are police all around Duba. You would have thought there was a terrorist incident. The place is going crazy. Hopefully, they can recover as many survivors as they can.
Nick Clarke, Duba, Saudi Arabia

This is not the first and not the last incident that we will see with ferries in this region. It is a shame that modern technology cannot be used to improve rescue efforts in such cases as surely it is available but as ever, lack of funding results not only in accidents but in delaying any rescue efforts that maybe initiated.
Vadim Smith, Brussels, Belgium

This will shock many people throughout the Arab and Muslim world, because not only were people from Egypt coming from Saudi Arabia from their place of work but many were also returning from the holy pilgrimage of Hajj.
Ahmed Abdulla, Isleworth, London, UK

Most people using that route are coming back from the Hajj with heavy loads of luggage and mostly families of Egyptian workers from their Eid holidays and street vendors or suppliers.
Mohamed T. Mahagoub, Shrewsbury - Uk





SEE ALSO:
Saudi coastguards rescue Sri Lankans
13 Dec 02 |  South Asia
More than 20 reported drowned in Egypt
07 Dec 97 |  Middle East


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