Cruise Ship Sinking

Cruise Ship Sinking
Bahrain Ferry Sinks March 30, 2006

Bahrain Ferry Sinks with 150 Passengers Onboard 58 Dead or Missing

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Bahrain Ferry Sinks March 30, 2006

Bahrain Ferry Sinks with 150 Passengers Onboard 58 Dead or Missing

The official Bahrain News Agency said the ferry was on an evening dinner cruise that was to last several hours, and 150 passengers dining onboard worked for the same company. The Nass Group had chartered the boat for a dinner cruise to celebrate the end of one of the consortium's construction projects.

Before setting sail, about 20 passengers disembarked, and didn't sail with the ship, leaving about 126 passengers onboard, and was sailing without a proper licence, the country's interior ministry said. The owner of the ship had applied for a license in December 2005. He was asked to meet the regulations, the conditions, and he was given a list of regulations that were required. He went away to complete the regulations but never came back to be licensed. So the ship is not licensed to be a sailing ship but it is registered as a fishing boat

The twin-decked boat was carrying about 126 people. Tourism sources said the Bahraini vessel which went down late on Thursday had a capacity of 100. The ferry's owners, according to Bahrain television, said overloading could have caused the ferry to capsize. Business partner Isa Al Qobaisi said on the night of the disaster that the dhow had a capacity for only 100 passengers - but there were around 130 on board. When the boat made a too tight turn, the weight of the vessel shifted, causing capsizing.

It was published by International Motors magazine, Mr Al Qobaisi said the BD200,000 dhow could take up to 200 people and was equipped with all the necessary safety equipment. He said it would sail short distances "from the shores of the Marina Club in Manama to the shores of Al Hidd area".

THE ill-fated Al Dana dhow was being advertised a month prior for family cruises, for up to 200 people at a time. The three-storey dhow was built in the UAE and was 100ft long, 35ft high, 30ft wide and had an eight-cylinder engine.

Coastguard officials have since revealed that the Al Dana was not licensed to sail and did not meet any of the regulations required to get that licence. It was registered only as a floating restaurant and should never have left the jetty, said officials.

The Coastguard said it was unaware that the Al Dana was being used for cruises and would have stopped had they seen it. The dhow cruises were launched in a ceremony attended by Information Under-Secretary Mahmood Al Mahmood, who was taken for a short cruise. It was later said by officials that he was unaware that the dhow was not licensed to sail.

Coastguard director Colonel Yousif Al Ghatam had after the disaster, in which 58 people were killed, that Al Dana was licensed only as a first-class floating restaurant, which should never have left the jetty.

Reports indicate that when the captain saw how many people were boarding and how much stock was being taken on board for the party, he did not want to put out, but organisers insisted.

It overturned around 9:30pm local time, in a narrow channel, in clear weather, less than a mile off the coast.

Television footage showed the ferry capsized but did not sink, as earlier reports had said, with rescue workers walking on its brown hull. Witnesses said the boat capsized on its way back into port.

A passenger on board the ferry calling from his cell phone was the first to alert officials that the ship was listing.

The minister, who is in charge of security, said most of the ferry's passengers were employees of a Bahrain-based company and that they came from several nationalities. The dead were 21 Indians, 13 Britons, five South Africans, five Filipinos, four Singaporeans, four Pakistanis, two Thais, a German, an Irish citizen and a South Korean. Sixty-eight people survived

Information Minister Muhammad Abdul Ghaffar said among the dead were citizens of Bahrain, Philippines, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the United States, Nepal, Pakistan, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Great Britain, India and Egypt. Thirteen of the dead were believed to be British citizens.

The Bahrain agency said the island nation's coast guard boats arrived at the site of the sinking vessel and that rescue operations had begun. It quoted Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Mohammed Ben Dayna as saying more than 60 people had been rescued and taken to hospital.

According to officials at the news conference, the boat, which was owned by a private company, flipped over. A passenger said he was on the boat's observation deck before it left the Marina Club port, and was concerned because it felt top-heavy. The man did not join the cruise. He said a friend of his, who was a bartender on the boat, was able to swim ashore. He said his friend told him a swell or wake lifted the boat, sending kitchen equipment to one side of the vessel, before it capsized.

Help arrived on the scene within five minutes, they said.

The American military aided the rescue effort by sending divers, helicopters and boats.

Photographs of some of the dead laying on rescue boat decks, showed very light skinned bodies, uncovered. It is presumed they were westerners.

Owner Abdulla Al Qobaisi was quoted in an Arabic magazine in the run up to the dhow's launch on March 9, describing the vessel as meeting international standards.

Current count is showing 68 passengers survived. Of those 24 were hospitalized. About 58 are dead or missing.

The owner of the boat was remanded in custody April 5, a prosecution official said.

Abdullah Al-Qubaisi, from the Al-Dana company that owned the vessel, will be held for a week pending further investigation after charges of involuntary manslaughter were brought against him, said Nawaf Hamza of the Public Prosecutor’s office. The authorities had earlier arrested the boat’s 30-year-old Indian captain, who they said was not licensed, and his assistant, bringing similar charges.

Victim's Included:

  • Scott Belch, 33, & Wife, Surrey, UK
  • Sandy & Stephen Grady, 42, West Yorkshire, UK
  • Christopher Langan, 53, Newcastle, UK
  • Chris Braysher, 47
  • Jimmy Allen, 59, South Africa
  • Lawrence Sulman, 39
  • Andrew Debrunner
  • Carl Ottewell
  • Jason Brett
  • Lucinda Lamb
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