Giza Governor Khaled Zakareya ordered compensations of EGP 20,000 to be issued to each family of the victims of Wednesday’s Nile cruise boat sinking, which left at least 17 dead and four injured, state-media MENA reported Thursday.
The boat sank after it collided with a barge late Wednesday evening and efforts recover the deceased continued to Thursday morning. Police arrested and detained the barge’s crew members.
The barge collided with the boat while it was on a short trip along the Nile, sinking it in the area of Warraq in Giza. A security official from the Ministry of Interior said the barge did not have its lights on, and was breaching a law forbidding them from travelling after 5 pm.
The total number of people on board the boat was not determined, but official sources estimate there were around 30 people who were mostly members of large families.
Ministry of Interior spokesperson, Abu Bakr Abdel Kareem, said in TV statements that the death toll rose from the initial 14 to 17, after a third body was recovered by Thursday afternoon. He also said that a total of six people were rescued.
Abdel Kareem said a few people are believed to be still missing.
A relative of the victims told CBC Extra channel that seven members of his family, including his wife and children, perished in the accident. He said authorities were not effective in the rescuing in comparison to local fishermen who took the bodies out of the water.
Another woman said 11 members of her family drowned, with the exception of her brother, and the rest were not yet found. A third person said the boat carried around 50 to 60 people, adding that most women had more than one child in their company.
Crowds gathered in front of the Nasser Institute hospital near the Shubra area and repeatedly complained about the way security forces are handling the situation, saying they lacked proper equipment and methods to recover the rest of the bodies.
According to Al-Ahram, the relatives of the victims angrily cut-off roads heading towards the Warraq police station in Giza, in demonstrations against the government. The news website further published photos of the victims’ belongings which included children’s shoes.
Al-Dostour Party’s renowned politician, Gameela Ismail, commented in press statements that the government’s neglect to enforce the law has caused the human losses, in addition to the lack of proper rescue efforts. “While we celebrate Rafale jets flying over the country, we are unable to provide basic naval rescue means,” Ismail said.
Al-Ahram reported that the rescue efforts took nearly 12 hours, and involved 40 rescue boats along with the Ministry of Interior, which eventually also took out the boat that sank.
The accident took place during the Eid El-Fitr public holiday week, during which people commonly take cruise boats along the Nile River.