Friday, February 03, 2006

Red Sea Ferry Disaster Update

Al Salem 89 & Al Salam Boccaccio 98
There are some doubts over the identity of the ferry that sank, in the Red Sea, last night. The vessel was first said to be the Al Salam 98, then it was named as the Al Salam 89, now it is said to be the Al Salam Boccaccio 98. There is no vessel Al Salam 98, but the Egyptian company El Salam does operate ferries named Al Salam 89 and Al Salam Boccaccio 98. The Al Salam 89 (top picture) was built as a RoRo cargo vessel in 1978, by Ishikawajima Ship and Chemical Company, in Japan, and converted, by El Salem into a RoRo ferry. The Al Salam Boccaccio 98 (lower picture) was built as a RoRo ferry by Fincantieri, in Italy, in 1969. The Boccaccio was last certified by the Italian Classification Society, RINA,in October 2005 and is said to have a capacity of 1100 passengers and 220 cars, not 2500, as has been stated by Farid al-Douadi, the vessels Saudi agent. Both the Al Salam 89 and the Al Salam Boccaccio 98 are owned by the Saudi Arabian Al Blagha Group, which has a joint venture, in ferry operations, with the El Salam Shipping Company. The Egyptian company is the engineering and technical operation arm and owns one third of the business, the remaining two thirds are owned by Al Blagha. The ferries run on a daily Red Sea service between Port Safaga, in Egypt and Port Dhuba, in Saudi Arabia. Operations in Dhuba are under the Al Blagha Shipping Agency Division’s flag. About 100 people have been picked up from lifeboats, but it is feared that the death toll will approach 1000.

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