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18 Indians die in Bahrain boat capsize

At least 18 Indians were drowned when a tourist dhow capsized off the coast of Bahrain, killing 57 of the 137 passengers on board.

india Updated: Apr 01, 2006 04:43 IST

At least 18 Indians were drowned when a tourist dhow capsized off the coast of Bahrain, killing 57 of the 137 passengers on board, a minister said on Friday.

"As per the information obtained so far from the Bahrain Coast Guard and the Salmaniya Medical Complex (Government hospital), 57 passengers have been confirmed dead. Of the 47 victims identified, 18 are Indians," Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said.

Ravi said 17 Indians were among the 36 people taken to the hospital. "Fourteen of them were discharged after receiving first aid. Two are admitted, one of them in the ICU," he said.

Bahrain's Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa telephoned Indian Ambassador Balkrishna Shetty around 10.45 am on Friday "to convey his deep condolences on the death of the Indians in the ferry tragedy", said a statement from Ravi's ministry.

"He reiterated his high regard for the Indian community and their contribution to Bahrain's development. He also wanted the ambassador to convey his condolences to the Indian community in Bahrain as well as to the Indian authorities," the statement said.

The Prime Minister personally visited the accident site to oversee the rescue operations.

In New Delhi, Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed expressed his "great sadness" at the tragedy.

"On receiving this sad news, Ahamed directed our embassy in Bahrain to closely monitor the event and provide all possible assistance to those affected by the tragedy," the minister's office said in a statement.

The ship was one kilometre off the Bahrain shore when it capsized at 9.45 pm on Thursday due to causes that have yet to be determined.

The US Navy, which has a regional headquarters in Bahrain, sent divers, boats and helicopters to the scene to help Bahraini authorities, CNN reported.

A majority of the passengers were employees of a Bahrain-based firm, but may have included 25 Britons, 20 Filipinos, 10 South Africans and 10 Egyptians, Bahrain Information Minister Mohammed Abul-Ghafar told CNN.

According to the Bahrain news agency BNA, the ship was a traditional wooden Arab dhow and was booked for a dinner cruise.

Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi has assured all support from the Government to all Indian victims and their family.

He said the Indian embassy in Bahrain had earmarked two telephones - 00973-39280216 (Counsellor HR Mohi) and 00973-39745640 (Second Secretary R Ragunathan) - for the public to seek details about the tragedy.

The embassy has also given contact telephone numbers of the Salamaniya Medical Complex - 00973-17-255555 - and Bahrain Coast Guard - 00973-39413413 and 00973-17-718888.

The following is the list of Indian victims: Sikhil Babu, Abdul Latif Abdul Wahab, Sarvana Kumar Murugesan, Nag Bhushan Pilla, Mrs. Nag Bhushan Pilla, Chennalappan Thirugnnan, Santhosh Chakra Puthenpura, Kuthiyil Mohammad Majeed, Saur Suhas Thorar, Muthukymar Murugan, Arby Mathews, Basant Kumar, Clarence William, Sayeed Farooq Syed Ahmed, Siru Arby, Uday Raj, Alok Kumar Verma and Hassnein (one name).