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'Party boat' crash in Egypt's Nile River takes 21 lives

By Tomas Monzon
'Party boat' crash in Egypt's Nile River takes 21 lives
The Nile River in Egypt. Photo by Juan A. Valino Garcia/Shutterstock

CAIRO, July 23 (UPI) -- A crash between a party boat and a cargo ship in Egypt's Nile River took the lives of at least 21 individuals Wednesday.

A young couple's relatives and friends rented a boat for an engagement party and were due north of Cairo during late evening hours when a cargo vessel hit their ship. According to the country's interior ministry, the skipper of the barge that the party boat hit was arrested and will be detained for four days pending investigation into the matter.

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The end of the holy month of Ramadan was also causing heavy traffic along the river.

One of the survivors who was aboard the boat said he and several others had joined the boat just for fun. He chose to remain anonymous and added that he and a friend jumped into the water following the crash and swam to a nearby boat for safety.

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The wreckage of the party boat was pulled from the river Thursday morning. The interior ministry added that the bodies of four babies had been recovered and five adults had also been rescued. It is unclear whether the engaged couple was among the dead.

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The crash sparked anti-government protests at the scene of the accident, resulting in increased police presence.

The crash is the latest in a series of accidents that take place on the Nile River and off of the Egyptian cost annually. Improperly functioning boats and loose law enforcement are typically to blame. In 2014, six people including a child were killed when their boat collided with a bridge near Cairo's downtown. In 2006, a ferry sank in the Red Sea and took the lives of more than 1,000 people.

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