Tuesday, October 18, 2005
An Egyptian passenger cruiser carrying over 1,300 Muslim pilgrims collided with a cargo ship at the entrance to the Suez Canal late Monday, causing a stampede among passengers that killed two people, officials and state-run media said.
Al-Salam 95Another 40 people were injured in the stampede to flee the Salam 95, which began sinking after it was struck near Port Tawfiq, at the canal's southern entrance about 80 miles 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 Al-Salam 95 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 16-foot hole in its side that allowed sea water to flood the engine room, Egypt's semiofficial Middle East News Agency reported. The Egyptian ship set sail from the Saudi Arabian Red Sea port of Jiddah; all but five of its passengers were Egyptians returning from a pilgrimage to Islam's holiest sites in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The accident did not force the closure of the 120-mile Suez Canal, which is a passage for about 7.5 percent of world sea trade.