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Bahrain ends cruise boat capsize rescue operations

Written by: Staff
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MANAMA, Apr 3 (Reuters) Bahrain said today it had ended an operation to rescue survivors and recover bodies from a cruise boat that capsized off its coast last week and said 58 foreigners were killed in the accident.

The twin-decked boat, which was not licensed to sail, was carrying 130 passengers, of which 72 survived, said a statement by the Interior Ministry on the state news agency.

An interior ministry official told Reuters that authorities would soon carry out inspections of all dhows. The ministry has also advised dhow owners to make sure their papers were in order, he added.

Officials earlier said the boat had been carrying about 126 passengers and that 68 passengers had survived. There was no reason given for the apparent discrepancy.

The statement said of the total 58 people who drowned, 22 were Indians and 13 were Britons. The remaining victims were from the Philippines, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, Pakistan, German, Ireland and Sri Lanka.

The Bahraini vessel, which has a capacity of 100, went down late on Thursday during a dinner sponsored by companies involved in a major construction project in Bahrain including South African construction firm Murray&Roberts.

Relatives and friends began claiming the bodies of loved ones yesterday. Authorities have detained the boat's captain for questioning after concerns arose about his qualifications and whether the boat was overloaded.

The Interior Ministry said the ship's owner had applied for a license but never completed the procedures.

REUTERS TM BS2319

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