4 years ago today: El-Salam 98 sinks in Red Sea

El-Salam 98 ferry was built in 1970 by an Italian company. The ferry was used for marine trips in Italian territorial waters. In 1991 it was upgraded to accommodate more passengers. The Egyptian el-Salam company then purchased the boat in 1998, naming it el-Salam 98.

On 2 February 2006, el-Salam 98 disappeared in the Red Sea–90 km from Hurghada. The ferry, on its way back from Saudi Arabia, was–according to some accounts–carrying 1312 passengers, 98 crew members and 115 foreigners; other accounts of the incident say it was carrying 1415 passengers, including 1310 Egyptians and 104 crew members as well as 220 cars.

Preliminary reports said that a fire broke out in the engine room, quickly spreading to other parts of the ferry. It was also reported that the renovations undertaken in the 1980s were to blame for the crash.

The rescue operations room in Scotland received distress signals from the ship which were transmitted to the Egyptian authorities. However, Egyptian authorities say they didn’t receive any calls for help from the company which owns the ship until six hours after the disaster happened.

An Egyptian court on 27 July 2008 found the ship owner, Mamdouh Ismail, and his son not liable in relation to the tragedy. Meanwhile Salah Gomaa, captain of the Saint Catherine ship, was handed down a six-month suspended prison sentence and fined LE10,000 for not helping el-Salam 98.

On the day after the accident, dozens of corpses were found floating in the Red Sea. Four Egyptian rescue teams, an American reconnaissance aircraft and a British frigate carried out the rescue mission. A Bengali captain managed to rescue 33 passengers and Saudi forces another 44 Saudis and 113 Egyptians.

But el-Salam 98 is not the only marine crash in recent times: the Salem Express ferry sank in 1991 and the Fakhr el-Salam in 2005–the latter also belonging to the el-Salam Company.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

Related Articles

Back to top button