In the statement, the Ministry of Interior reported that the Al-Salam 98 departed Dhiba port, Saudi Arabia, at 7:30 p.m. [4:30 p.m. GMT] on Thursday February 2, 2006, heading for Safaga, Egypt with 1,398 passengers and crew members.
Upon hearing about the misfortune, the Makkah region’s rescue coordination center for the Red Sea was placed on full alert and sent out distress messages to all vessels in the region to contribute to rescue efforts. A task force was formed at Dhiba Port to follow the developments in full cooperation with Egyptian authorities.
The Saudi Arabian embassy in Cairo has dispatched a team to Safaga coordinate the rescue operations of missing Saudi nationals.
The Ministry reported that Al-Salam 98 carried a total of 1,318 passengers and 80 crew members. The breakdown by nationality is as follows: 1,200 Egyptians; 100 Saudis; six Syrians; four Palestinians; and one passenger each from Oman, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, the Sudan, Jordan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Canada.
The Ministry of Interior has established emergency hotlines to answer questions related to the Al-Salam 98 tragedy. The number within Saudi Arabia is 911. Calling from outside the Kingdom, the number is [966-1-] 408-2558 and the fax number is [966-1] 405-2579. As dialed from the United States, the number is 011-966 (1) 408-2558 and 011-966 (1) 405-2579 for the fax.
The hotline for the Saudi embassy in Cairo is [20-2] 749-3025. As dialed from the United States, the number is 011-20 (2) 749-3025.