The Kafr El-Sheikh prosecution unit detained five government officials in the local city council on Sunday night to determine their responsibility in Thursday’s ferry sinking, which has killed 17 people.
The prosecution summoned the river police officer who was on duty the day of the sinking, but did not detain him.
The ferry was travelling from the village of Sendeon to the village of Rahamnea. It is still not known whether the accident was due to unforeseen weather conditions or a technical malfunction.
The prosecution said that the officials were from the Navigation Authority and the Office for Boat Licensing. They will be detained and investigated to see whether they were responsible for the “negligence” spotted by the preliminary investigations of the prosecution.
The detention order was issued by the prosecution after a technical committee concluded that that the licence of the boat was expired.
Newly-appointed Governor of Kafr El-Sheikh, Al-Sayed Nasr suspended the officials at the Office for Boat Licensing, accusing them of negligence.
The officials are to return to their posts once the investigations conclude, Nasr said.
The number of passengers originally onboard the ferry is still unknown. So far, five passengers were rescued from the sinking ship, while the bodies of the 17 who died were recovered from the water.
The prosecution ordered the burial of bodies, which were received by the grieving relatives. The rescued passengers were transferred to the nearest hospital to receive medical attention.
On Saturday, the Administrative Prosecution ordered an immediate investigation of the case after suspecting a possible “act of negligence”
Although the reason of the accident is still unknown, Minister of Local Development Ahmed Zaki Badr said Saturday that the ferry was supposed to carry seven people only, and had an expired licence.
Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali ordered another EGP 10,000 for the relatives of the dead passengers.
In July, the boat collided with a barge off Al-Warraq Island in the Nile River in Giza, leaving 15 dead and five injured initially. However, the death toll rose to 38 in the following days.
Following the accident, then-prime minister Ibrahim Mehleb issued a series of decisions, including the temporary halt of any activity by barges in Cairo from sunset to sunrise until further notice. Mehleb also allocated EGP 60,000 for the family of each victim killed and EGP 10,000 for the injured.