Cargo Crash With Boat Kills 31 in Nile

Cargo Crash With Boat Kills 31 in NileCargo Crash With Boat Kills 31 in Nile

A cargo ship collided with a boat on the Nile carrying people celebrating an engagement, leaving at least 31 dead, Egyptian police said on Thursday as divers searched for missing passengers.

The captain of the cargo boat and his assistants were arrested following the accident late on Wednesday in the Warraq district north of Cairo, the authorities said, Middle East Online reported.

A police general on the scene said 18 corpses had been retrieved. Police and medics had earlier said 21 people were killed. Five survivors were plucked from the river but an unknown number were still missing, the police general said. At least two children drowned.

Witnesses said fishermen had been first on the scene at night to pull out the corpses and survivors. The search was initially hampered by darkness but resumed after daybreak, with police and emergency vessels trawling the river looking for survivors.

Ahmed Helmy, a relative of passengers, said at least five of his family members were killed in the accident. Family and friends of a young couple had hired the boat to celebrate their engagement. It was not clear whether the couple were among the dead.

The captain was detained for four days along with three of his assistants on suspicion of manslaughter, the official MENA news agency reported. They are also suspected of having operated the ship without following safety regulations.

The Nile, which runs along the length of Egypt, is dotted with cargo ships, boats and fishing vessels.

In 2011, at least 22 people drowned in southern Egypt when a bus they were in slipped into the Nile from a ferry which crashed into the river bank. A year before, five people drowned north of Cairo when their boat capsized.

In the deadliest accident involving a ferry, an Egyptian vessel sank in the Red Sea in 2006 killing more than 1,000 people.