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Death toll climbs to 32 in Egypt's Nile boat collision

A cargo boat collided with a boat carrying passengers on Wednesday

Ahram Online , Friday 24 Jul 2015
Egyptians look at the passenger boat that sunk in the river Nile in Giza, south of Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, July 23, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

The death toll from a boat collision on the Nile near Cairo earlier in the week has climbed to 32, half of whom are children, Egypt's health ministry said on Friday, after more bodies were recovered from the water following the country's deadliest such incident in years. 

Security sources put the figure at 21 on Thursday, while the health ministry's official toll stood at 18.

But the ministry's spokesman Hossam Abdel Ghaffar told Ahram Online Friday that 14 more bodies had been retrieved from the river as rescuers have continued the search for the victims for a third day.

The spokesman said at least 16 children are among the deaths.

A provincial prosecutor told Al-Ahram Arabic that around 35 passengers were estimated to have been on board a chartered boat when it collided with a cargo ship near Al-Warraq dictrict in Giza late on Wednesday, causing it to capsize. The interior ministry said six of the passengers had been rescued.

Hamed El-Akeily, an interior minister aide who is the head of the Environment and Water Bodies Police, said in a statement that the skipper of the cargo ship warned the driver of the Nile boat, but the latter ignored the warnings and sped right in front of the cargo ship.

"The boat did not move quick enough, causing the cargo ship to collide with it," El-Akeily added.

The skipper of the cargo ship has been arrested and ordered to be detained pending probe into the incident.

Locals angered by the deaths and families of those still missing blocked off a main road in the area where the boat sank on Thursday and chanted anti-government slogans.

Boat accidents are not uncommon on the Nile or off Egypt’s coast. They are often blamed on rickety crafts or loose enforcement of the law.

Last year, six people including a child were killed when their chartered boat collided with a bridge structure near downtown Cairo.

The country’s deadliest boat accident occurred in February 2006 when a ferry sank in the Red Sea, killing more than 1,000 people.

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