31/03/2006

Bahrain boat disaster death toll rises

At least 12 Britons and one Irish citizen are among those who died when a pleasure boat capsized off the coast of Bahrain last night.

At least 57 people are believed to have been killed when the two-deck Arabic dhow, which was carrying a party of workers from three international companies who had worked on the Bahrain World Trade Centre towers, capsized as it returned to the port of Al Muharraq.

While 67 people have been rescued, 13 people are believed to be missing following the capsize.

According to reports, the boat could hold a maximum of 100 people, but as many as 150 are believed to have been on board. The captain had reportedly been reluctant to set sail because the boat was overcrowded.

The British Embassy has confirmed that 12 Britons have been killed, along with three people with dual nationalities. Nine British survivors are reported to have been rescued.

A Foreign Office spokeperson warned that there may be further British casualties.

Around 25 Britons are believed to have been on board the ship. The other fatalities are understood to include 17 Indians, five Pakistanis, four South Africans, three Filipinos, two Singaporeans and one German.

The survivors are believed to include thirty Indians, eight South Africans and an American.

Construction company, Murray and Roberts, who had organised the party on the boat, confirmed that they had 25 employees, who were all foreign, on board the boat. Four have been confirmed dead, six remain missing and the others survived.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said that the British Embassy in Bahrain was helping local authorities and also confirmed that a rapid deployment team had been sent to the area from London.

(KMcA)

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