Hundreds Feared Dead in Ferry Tragedy

The Egyptian ferry 'Al Salam Boccaccio 98' was carrying 1,300 people on board when it sank 40 miles off the port of Hurghanda. Helicopter pilots reported seeing bodies, as well as one lifeboat carrying survivors. As of 1 pm ET, an estimated 180 people escaped on lifeboats, according to Egyptian official. Most of the passengers were Egyptians returning from their jobs in Saudi Arabia.

At least four Saudi ships - and four Egyptian ships - are involved in the search effort, arriving about ten hours after the 35-year-old ferry was believed to have sank. Rescue coordination seems to be a bit muddled; Egyptians initially turned down offers from Britain, Israel, and America to help out. But then Egypt decided it would go ahead and use the Britain's and Americans to help in the rescue efforts.

The ship went down between midnight and 2 am, when most of the passengers would be sleeping. The waters in the region are as deep as 1,000 yards. They don't know yet what caused the ship to sink - there were no icebergs in the area, as was the case with the Titanic - but there were high winds overnight, as well as a sandstorm over on Saudi Arabia's west coast.

Terrorism is not thought to have been a cause. Most likely, ferry experts say, winds kicked up some water onto this ferry, making the ship unstable. Apparently, this type of ferry that sank is prone to disasters.

So far, at least twenty bodies have been recovered. TDI will continue to keep you up-to-date on this tragic story . (source)

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