Saturday, April 1, 2006At least 57 people are now known to have died when a boat designed similar to a traditional dhow capsized one mile of the coast of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. Seventeen were Indian and a further 13 of the dead are British; people of another six nationalities are also known to have died. The passengers were mostly foreigners from the Nass-Murray and Roberts construction company, and were enjoying an evening dinner cruise in celebration of their completion of part of the Bahrain World Trade Centre towers. Most who died were dining on the lower deck, and were trapped below.
Over 130 people were onboard the boat at the time, although some say the boat was only licensed to carry 120. Others say the limit was 150. Eyewitnesses say the boat was overloaded. The boat capsized in calm seas soon after it left, trapping many below. Helicopters from the US Navy searched for 13 missing persons until Friday morning, when the search was called off. The dhow had been modified to have an extra, higher deck making the vessel less stable. The exact cause is unknown – suggestions from eyewitnesses include the boat suddenly turning left, being hit by a wave, and many of the passengers moving to one side of the boat together. The Bahrain Interior Ministry is to investigate the accident and establish if the boat was seaworthy.