December 20, 2014 / 8:23 PM / 3 years ago

Egypt charges captain, officer of Kuwaiti ship with manslaughter

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s public prosecutor charged the captain and first officer of a Kuwaiti container ship with manslaughter in connection with a collision in the Red Sea this month that killed 25 Egyptian fishermen, state news agency MENA said on Saturday.

The fishing boat capsized after colliding with the Panamanian-flagged ship al-Safat after the container vessel had passed through the Suez Canal on its way to Saudi Arabia.

The defendants have been detained since the incident and the prosecutor has ordered the seizure of the ship, last reported as docked in Safaga port, 500 km (300 miles) southeast of Cairo.

The collision is at least the second in the last four months involving vessels passing through the Suez Canal. In September, two container ships collided at the northern end of the canal, knocking containers into the sea and delaying traffic in both directions.

The Suez Canal is a key trading route between Europe and Asia, providing about $5 billion in annual revenue for Egypt, which is digging an extension to allow larger ships to pass through the channel at the same time.

Kuwaiti officials were not immediately available for comment on the criminal charges.

Initial reports said 13 Egyptians had died in the collision near Ras Ghareb about halfway down the Gulf of Suez, but the death toll increased to 25. The MENA report said 134 other people were injured and three were missing.

Reporting by Ali Abdelatty; Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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