CAIRO, (Reuters) – Sixteen Egyptians drowned on Saturday after a minibus they were riding in plunged into the Nile river from the deck of a ferry in central Egypt, security sources said.
They said 13 bodies had been pulled from the river near the town of Minya after the accident, which was the third major transport mishap in Egypt since the start of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday on Tuesday.
Rescue workers were still trying to find the bodies of another three people who had been on the bus when it fell into the river and were presumed to have drowned, the sources said. They said they no longer expected to find them alive. State media reported that three more people had survived the accident with injuries.
Security sources said the minibus had driven aboard the ferry but then fell from the deck while the boat was still at the shore. State news agency MENA said it fell while boarding.
Many of the dead were from an extended family who had been travelling back to Cairo after spending the holiday with family in the village of Hag Qandil near Minya, 200 km (120 miles) south of Cairo, MENA reported.
It said the dead included at least six children ages two to 13, and that the minibus driver had turned himself over to police, fearing violence from family members of the dead.
A series of fatal transport accidents in recent years triggered a public outcry over the government’s handling of transport safety. Many of those accidents have occurred on public holidays, when Egypt’s transport system becomes overloaded.
On Friday, at least eight Egyptians were killed and 24 others were injured when a bus collided with another vehicle near the oasis town of Fayoum south of Cairo. A day earlier, a metro train jumped its track at a station on the outskirts of Cairo, injuring at least 34 people.
During the Eid el-Fitr holiday in October that marked the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, 13 people died in a similar ferry boat accident in Minya after the ramp they were using to board the boat collapsed, plunging them into the river.