A tale of two ferry sinkings: South Korea and Egypt

The M/V al-Salam Boccaccio 98, an Egyptian RO/RO Passenger ferry, that sank on 3 February 2006 in the Red Sea, with 1,033 dead

We judge the progress and humanity of states and societies by a variety of standards, among them how they deal with the death of their citizens, whether in accidents and catastrophes, or in political violence perpetrated by the state or in civil strife. How a society values the lives of its citizens, how it deals with current and recent violent trauma, how it forms its collective memory about past political upheavals; whether to choose living in denial or to exorcise its demons, says a lot about that society.

This is, in part a tale of two ships condemned by the criminal negligence of their crews to sink, one in the Yellow Sea, the other in the Red Sea, thousands of miles away and eight years apart.

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Photo from a blog called Ferry Disasters. Its entry for the Egyptian ship is here.

Note that RO/RO ferries (roll on / roll off) are particularly at risk of sinking because of the need to have openings in the hull for the cars to drive on and off, and because the large area that hold the cars is not broken up at all. Once water starts entering, it can be game over very quickly.

The large ferries that travel between Victoria and the mainland are floating parking lots, and they cannot sail if the weather is much more than breezy. They certainly could not travel in the open sea.

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