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16 drown during Egypt spring festival

Accidents occurred as Egypt celebrated centuries-old Sham Al Nessim

Gulf News

Cairo: Sixteen Egyptians drowned in different incidents on Monday as the nation celebrated a springtime festival believed to have originated in ancient Egypt, according to media reports.

The daylong festival, known as Sham Al Nessim, marks the start of spring in Egypt.

The 16 deaths included three people from one family, who drowned while they were swimming in the Nile in the province of Qena in Upper Egypt, news portal Masrawy reported.

In the southern province of Assiut, four people, including three from the same family, drowned in two separate incidents, private newspaper Al Watan said on Tuesday.

An 11-year-old girl, meanwhile, on an outing with friends along the banks of the Nile slipped and drowned in the river in the province of Beni Suef, around 120km south of Cairo, according to Al Watan.

Two teenagers reportedly drowned while they were swimming in the Nile in the province of Qaliubia north of Cairo.

Egyptians annually mark Sham Al Nessim on the first Monday that follows the Coptic Easter.

People flock to public parks, seaside resorts, or spend the day enjoying a boat ride in the River Nile.

According to historians, Sham Al Nessim derives its name from an ancient Egyptian harvest festival, which was known as “shamo”. Modern Egyptians celebrate the event by eating salty fish, onions, lettuce and coloured eggs.

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