Passenger cruiser, boat collide at Suez

Egyptian ship was returning from Jiddah with about 1,350 passengers.

pilgrims haj 298 AP (photo credit: )
pilgrims haj 298 AP
(photo credit: )
An Egyptian passenger cruiser carrying over 1,300 Muslim pilgrims collided with a cargo ship at the Suez Canal's southern entrance late Monday, causing a stampede among panicked passengers on their sinking vessel that killed one person, officials and state-run media said. Another 40 people were injured in the stampede to flee the Salam 95, which was struck by the Cypriot-registered Jebal Ali at 7:30 p.m. near Port Tawfiq, about 130 kilometers east of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, port and police officials said. At least 12 rescue boats rescued the bulk of the 1,350 passengers from the Salam 95, most of whom were Egyptian except for five Palestinians, before the vessel sank three hours later, the officials said on condition of anonymity as they were unauthorized to speak to the media. The cargo vessel was entering the Red Sea after crossing the Suez Canal from the Mediterranean when it rammed into the Egyptian ship, gouging a 5 meter diameter hole in its side into which sea water flooded into its engine room, Egypt's semiofficial Middle East News Agency reported. Losses from the mishap totaled around US $7 million, port officials said. The Egyptian ship set off from the Saudi Arabian Red Sea port of Jiddah with its passengers who had performed a pilgrimage to Islam's holiest sites in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The accident did not force the closure of the 190-kilometer Suez Canal, through which about 7.5 percent of world sea trade passes.