Coral reefs in Egypt's Red Sea devastated by foreign vessel
Nationality of ship, which reportedly destroyed large swathes of coral reef in two of Egypt's premiere dive locations, remains undetermined
Bassem Abo Alabass, Thursday 16 May 2013
The foreign ship docks in the Egypt's diving zone Canyon (Photo: courtesy from REPS)
Several natural coral reefs located in South Sinai's internationally renowned Blue Hole and Canyon diving areas in the Red Sea were devastated on Wednesday evening, Egypt's NGO Rescue and Environmental Protection Society (REPS) has told Ahram Online.
REPS officials explained that several coral reefs near the two Red Sea diving zones had been destroyed after a foreign ship, called the 'Sea Lord,' swerved from its course, lowering its anchor into the reef bed.
On Wednesday, REPS requested that the Egyptian Navy and Red Sea Coast Guard take action against the foreign vessel.
"The nationality of the 120-metre-long ship has yet to be determined, but it arrived via Jordan's Aqaba seaport," REPS head Hassan El-Tayeb told Ahram Online on Thursday.
It remains unclear whether the Sea Lord had suffered a technical failure or had deliberately cast anchor near the diving zones, El-Tayeb added.
According to Egyptian law, ships are banned from docking in or near coral reefs so as to avoid damaging them.
"How is it possible that no help was provided this ship when it was adrift in international waters?" asked one foreign member of REPS's Dahab office.
"How is it possible that this ship was able to approach the Egyptian coast without any attempt by the military to verify the captain's intentions or the ship's situation?" he added.
A delegation from Egypt's Environmental Protection Authority in South Sinai is currently trying to estimate the damage sustained by the coral reefs.
Correction: The Rescue and Environmental Protection Society (REPS) is an NGO and not state-run as previously reported.