IMO Secretary General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos
has spoken of his shock at the devastating news of the loss of the ferry al-Salam Boccaccio 98, on passage between Saudi Arabia and Egypt
, with heavy loss of life in bad weather conditions.
He said, "It was with deep regret that we learnt of the incident this morning and the thoughts and prayers of the entire membership, the Secretariat and myself go out to all those who have lost their lives and, of course, to their families, friends and loved ones."
He added, "It is inappropriate at this stage to speculate on what may have been the cause of the sinking and we must wait until we receive reliable information from the Egyptian and Panamanian authorities. Once this happens, we will see if there are lessons to be learnt so that we may take prompt and expedited action so that similar accidents are not repeated in the future."
Since learning of the incident, Mr Mitropoulos has been in constant contact with Eng. Mohamed Mansour, the Minister of Transport and Admiral M. Mahmoud Shereen, Head of the Maritime Transport Sector in the Ministry of Transport, both of Egypt, with Mr. Abdelaziz El-Ohaly, Deputy Minister for Transport of Saudi Arabia and with Mr Ruben Arosemena, Vice President of Panama and Administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority.
He has also been in contact with the Ambassadors of Egypt and Panama to London, with other flag State representatives, with officials of the ship's classification society, RINA, with officers at Rescue Co-ordination Centres in the area and with coast guard officials from a number of countries.
Mr. Mitropoulos praised the efforts of search and rescue authorities. He said, "the efforts of those authorities involved in the search and rescue operation are greatly appreciated, in particular because it had to be conducted under adverse weather conditions."
"IMO stands ready to offer any assistance it can in this time of great distress", Mr Mitropoulos added.