Church officials blame govt for boat accident

Giza Archbishop donned a black robe on Friday as funerals were held for four girls who drowned in a Nile boating accident near the Cairo district of Maadi. Aboard the boat was a group from the Margirgis church in Giza.

According to Thiwdeus, the bishop of Giza, nine girls died in the accident, which occurred late Thursday evening. He said that divers were looking for the five remaining bodies so that funeral services could be held for them.

The bishop blamed the Governorate of Helwan and the authorities responsible for supervision of boat safety for the accident. “It was incumbent on these authorities to prohibit boats in poor condition from operating,” he stated. “There also should have been an official regulating boat traffic and determining how many occupants each boat could carry.”

The bishop emphasized that the Church had not demonstrated negligence and bore no responsibility for the incident. He said that church officials had transported the injured to the hospital, buried the victims and provided aid to the victim’s families, in addition to keeping up with developments in the search for the missing.

The bishop said that similar trips were reguarly organized by the Church, in which participants took a bus to the Churches of the Virgin in Maadi and Margirgis to “obtain blessings from these holy spots on the Nile.”

“After the participants visit the churches they gather in Kusika Park which overlooks the Nile,” he continued. “In the park they eat a light meal and then rent a boat for half an hour to cruise the river.”

“The same thing happened on this trip,” he added. “Unfortunately, they boarded a worn out boat that was not strong enough to bear all of them.”

The bishop stated that Pope Shenouda III had charged him with conveying his condolences to the families of the victims. He said that the Church would support the families of the victims in the aftermath of the painful tragedy and follow the progress of the injured until they made a full recovery.

Ifram Saad, a priest, stated that the church where the funerals were held had been filled to capacity, adding that a state of melancholy prevailed in the area among both Christians and Muslims.

“We decided to hold one service of mourning for all of the victims this evening rather than have a service for each victim at their family’s home,” he stated.

Azzaj Andrawas, an employee of the church, said that there were 17 people on the trip, including 15 girls in Middle School and two chaperones who worked for the Church. He noted that all of the girls were under 14 years old.  According to Andrawas, eight of the girls died in addition in addition to one of the chaperones.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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