February 9, 2006

IMO help in ferry disaster investigation

Back from a one-day trip to Cairo in the aftermath of the loss of the ferry al-Salam Boccaccio 98, IMO Secretary General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said that, in addition to demonstrating "solidarity and compassion ," his mission had been "to assist the investigation of the accident by facilitating the provision, through IMO's technical cooperation program, of independent technical expertise and advice."

The Secretary General expressed his appreciation to the Governments of Egypt and of Panama, the ship's flag state, for their cooperation with IMO and their willingness to cooperate with each other and any other government with a substantial interest in the case, in the joint casualty investigation, which was launched yesterday.

IMO is in consultation with the United Kingdom Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and the Bureau Enquetes Accidents-Mer of France for the designation of consultants, including experts in Voyage Data Recorder technology, to proceed to Egypt and assist in the investigation as independent technical advisers.

Meantime, the possibility of ciminal prosecutions was raised at a meeting of the Egyptian cabinet held yesterday by Prime Minister Dr. Ahmed Nazif, the cabinet reviewed a number of reports by the Ministers of Defence, Transport, Social Security and Health on the disaster of the ill-fated ferryboat Al Salam 98.

Cabinet Spokesman Dr. Magdy Radi said prosecutors are pursuing investigations to determine the criminal and legal implications of the case. He said that the Egyptian Ministry of Transport will form a committee to reviewing measures taken thus far determine technical and criminal responsibility in the case.

Dr. Radi also said the Prime Minister stressed the need to inspect all passenger ships in Egypt whether or not Egyptian flagged.