Egypt lays more blame on ferry disaster captain
CAIRO, Apr 5 (Reuters) The Egyptian government laid more blame today on the captain of the ferry which sank in the Red Sea in February with the loss of more than 1,000 lives.
A cabinet statement said analysis of the recording of the conversation on the bridge of the Salam 98 showed the captain did not take any of the important safety measures.
It said the captain did not send a distress signal, did not report his problems to either the port of departure or the port of arrival, did not try to return to port when fire broke out and did not order the crew or passengers to use rescue systems.
A fire broke out on the car deck about one hour out of the Saudi port of Daba en route for Safaga on the Egyptian side of the Red Sea. But the ship continued to sail out to sea for several hours before it finally capsized and sank.
Survivors said at the time that crew members told them not to worry about the fire and prevented them putting on life jackets. They also accused the captain, Sayed Omar, of abandoning the ship, but Omar is missing assumed drowned.
Much of the public anger at the disaster has been directed at the Cairo-based shipping company, which is owned by Mamdouh Ismail, a member of the upper house of parliament.
The cabinet statement said the investigation was not yet complete and copies of the contents of the voice recorder have gone to the public prosecutor and a committee of inquiry.
REUTERS SBJ BS2337