Search stepped up after Egyptian ferry sinking

Search stepped up after Egyptian ferry sinking
Rescue teams haul up a truck from a sunken Nile ferry in Egypt. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 13 August 2020

Search stepped up after Egyptian ferry sinking

Search stepped up after Egyptian ferry sinking
  • Families of the victims gathered at the scene, outside the village of Dimishli, where four passengers are believed to have drowned
  • Three passengers were rescued from the canal and taken to Menoufia General Hospital

CAIRO: Four people returning from a wedding are believed to have drowned after a ferry sank in a canal in Egypt’s northern El-Beheira governorate on Thursday.

Families of the victims gathered at the scene, outside the village of Dimishli, after rescue teams found the body of one of the passengers.

Three passengers were rescued from the canal and taken to Menoufia General Hospital.

Rescue teams identified one of the victims as Muhammad Abdullah Al-Sarsi, 27, whose body was found about 4 km away.

The Egyptian Public Prosecution ordered an investigation into the sinking as well as a report on the condition of the ferry.

Maj. Gen. Hisham Amna, El-Beheira’s governor, visited the scene and confirmed there were seven passengers on board.

The three still missing are Muhammad Abdullah Abdul Qadir, Ahmed Abdel Fattah Shendi and Mahmoud Hamdi Shendi.

The governor said that he directed security and rescue teams to the site to provide support.

Amna announced 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($628) of aid to families of the victims, and said efforts would be stepped up to recover the bodies.

MP Mahmoud Saad claimed the ferry sank because it was overloaded.

Equipment on board included cookware, which added to the already heavy load.

Saad said that a review of ferry control and maintenance is needed urgently.

The MP said he will submit a statement on the circumstances of the accident and demand action.

“There must be a ferry supervisor who does checks before it sets off. There also needs to be nearby river rescue points, periodic maintenance, worker training and a work permit requirement,” he said.

“This is not the first ferry accident and we have repeatedly talked about the need for tighter control. We need regular ferry inspections,” he added.

Ahmed Ismail, an eyewitness, told Arab News that the ferry passengers were returning from a wedding. The wedding cook and his assistants were among those on the vessel.


Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce
In this file photo taken on November 19, 2020, a Libyan stands in front of a school, which was damaged during fighting between rival factions, in the capital Tripoli's suburb of Ain Zara. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2021

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce
  • Ankara and Moscow appear intent on defending their interests under any final settlement

TRIPOLI: Foreign forces ignored a deadline to pull out of Libya as scheduled on Saturday under a UN-backed cease-fire deal, highlighting the fragility of peace efforts after a decade of conflict.

Satellite images broadcast by CNN show a trench running tens of kilometers dug by “Russian mercenaries” near the frontline coastal city of Sirte, as main foreign protagonists Ankara and Moscow appear intent on defending their interests under any final settlement.
An unidentified US intelligence official, quoted by the American news network, said there was “no intent or movement by either Turkish or Russian forces to abide by the UN-brokered agreement.”
“This has the potential to derail an already fragile peace process and cease-fire. It will be a really difficult year ahead,” he said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged all “regional and international actors to respect the provisions” of the Oct. 23 cease-fire accord that set out a withdrawal within three months of all foreign troops and mercenaries.
That deadline passed on Saturday, with no movement announced or observed on the ground.
The UN estimates there are still some 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries in Libya helping the warring factions, the UN-recognized Government of National Accord in Tripoli and military strongman Khalifa Haftar in the east. The GNA has received military support from Turkey. Haftar has the backing of Russia.
Guterres called on all parties to implement the terms of the cease-fire “without delay,” something he noted “includes ensuring the departure of all foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya, and the full and unconditional respect of the Security Council arms embargo,” which has been in place since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted and killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi.

HIGHLIGHT

The UN estimates there are still some 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries in Libya helping the warring factions.

Any withdrawal or end to foreign interference “does not depend on the Libyans but on the outside powers,” said Khaled Al-Montasser, professor of international relations at Tripoli University.
Turkey on Friday welcomed a deal reached at UN-backed talks for Libya’s warring factions to set up an interim executive to rule the North African country until polls in December.
Turkey has backed the GNA with military advisers, materiel and mercenaries, repelling an advance on Tripoli by Haftar’s forces, and it also has a military base in Al-Watiya on the border with Tunisia under a 2019 military accord.
Last December, parliament in Ankara extended by 18 months its authorization for Turkey’s troop deployment in Libya, in apparent disregard of the cease-fire deal.
“The mercenaries are unlikely to leave Libya so long as the countries which have engaged them have not guaranteed their interests in the new transitional phase,” said Montasser, referring to the multiple tracks of UN-sponsored talks currently underway.
“Their presence keeps alive the threat of military confrontation at any moment, while the current calm staying in place seems uncertain,” he said.
Most of the foreign forces are concentrated around Sirte, at Al-Jufra airbase held by Haftar’s forces 500 km south of Tripoli and further west in Al-Watiya.