CAIRO: The continuously unfolding events regarding Egypt’s ferry accident still dominate the headlines of national and independent newspapers. In response to the tragedy, the government promises a thorough investigation supervised by a Parliamentary committee.
More than 1,000 Egyptians are dead or missing in a Red Sea ferry accident that occurred less than 10 days ago. After a fire reportedly broke out on board, chaos spread on the ship that carried around 1,400 Egyptian citizens and crew. The ship, according to some press reports, was still in the vicinity of the Saudi Arabian port of departure but refused to turn back, with the captain allegedly insisting that the fire could be controlled. Passengers were held at sea for more than 20 hours, while the ferry sunk.
Distress signals sent to Egyptian ports were allegedly ignored initially; French, Saudi, Indian and British ships picked up several survivors and alerted the Egyptian authorities. Bodies were brought to the Egyptian port of Safaga, where families of victims rioted and threw stones at security guards, who pushed them away.
Initially, the ship’s owner, a member of the upper house of the Shura Council, denied responsibility for the accident and was exempted from earlier investigations. However, amid opposition outcries, the government announced Monday that the prosecution would “indeed question Mamdouh Ismail, the owner and manager of Salam 98, a ferry that reportedly should have gone out of service years ago.
“We do not cover up for those responsible for the disaster and we guarantee transparency during investigations, a government representative told national newspaper Al-Ahram Monday. According to the Al-Ahram report, “within hours of publication on Monday, the parliament would look into a legislative amendment of a law that secures the rights of the missing. According to the proposed amended law, the missing person’s family would be granted all the financial rights a deceased person’s family is granted, after the person is missing for more than 15 days, as opposed to one year, as the original law stated.
Meanwhile, tempers of the opposition and Islamists flared as the government decided to delay the elections of the local councils for two years. According to Reuters, “the delay means that if current President Hosni Mubarak, 77, were to die or step down, the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), would be the only party able to field a candidate for president under the current make-up of Egypt s elected bodies.
Al-Ahram reports that the decision made by the Shura Council is meant to grant “localities time to endorse the plans of reform recently suggested by President Mubarak.
The NDP wanted to delay the elections to gather themselves . The make-up of the local councils in the current situation … makes the candidate of the NDP the only player in presidential elections, deputy Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Habib told Reuters.
Reaping the products of success, independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, is still celebrating the national football team’s latest victory, dedicating four pages of their Monday issue to post-victory news and features.
Egypt beat the Ivory Coast 4-2 on penalties in the final round of the African Cup of Nations last Friday, earning the golden cup for the fifth time in its history.
The newspaper also reported that celebrated striker Ahmad “Mido Hossam was pardoned from the six-month international ban, implemented after Mido had a heated row with principal team coach Hassan Shehata in front of thousands of audience members.
“I am the closest player to Mido . I know the outburst was a result of Mido’s eagerness [to play], said Ahmad Hassan, rising star of the current national football team and winner of the MTN best player in Africa award. “He had never meant to upset the coach as some had imagined . He was zealous and emotional because he cared for his team’s advantage.
In his defense, British Tottenham coach Martin Jol, where Mido is on loan, told the press that he understood why Mido was frustrated.
“The game was 1-1 when they took him off and he always believes that he can score, said Jol. “I know he s an emotional guy; a lot of the top players are . For most of his time with us he has shown great mental strength and been a winner . He s very helpful to everyone, but he s a young kid and has had to grow up quickly.