March 31, 2006
Many dead in Bahrain tour boat sinking
Bahraini Interior Ministry Spokesman, Colonel Tariq Al Hassan, said in a press conference today that as a result of the capsizing of the tourist ship which sank off the coasts of Bahrain on Thursday evening, 76 survived, 57 were killed and 13 were still missing.
Al Hassan added that the passengers were of 16 different nationalities which have been unidentified so far , including Bahrain, U.S,, Britain, Egypt, Germany, South Africa, India, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
He also said that 11 bodies were still unidentified.
Among the survivors three were from Bahrain, three from Egypt and one from the United States.
"An investigation committee was formed and began investigating into the cause of the incident," Al Hassan told the press conference.
Commander of Coast Guard Colonel Yousif Al Ghatam, said water current affected the search for survivors as wind speed was between 10 to 15 knots, adding that the ship did not call for aid and that the first call came from a survivor who was rescued by a boat which was passing by at the time.
He said the 85 ft by 23 ft vessel was sunk in three meter-deep waters.
Although headlines have described the vessel as a "ferry," it appears that it is actually a two deck traditional Arab dhow used for tourist cruises.
The BBC coverage of the story has photographs and video.
You can see the Gulf Daily News coverage here.
Navy News Service reports that U.S. 5th Fleet assets and personnel responded immediately at approximately 10:15 p.m., March 30 after learning that the vessel had capsized in a Bahraini harbor, approximately one mile east of the command's headquarters in Bahrain.
U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels, including USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332) got underway from the Bahrain port to support BahrainÕs rescue efforts. U.S. Navy helicopters and divers were also made available to assist the government of Bahrain.