A Costa Europa cruise liner which collided with a pier at the dock in Sharm Al Shaikh yesterday, following severe storms. The collision left a 2-meter hole in the Image Credit: AP

Cairo/Dubai: Egyptian prosecutors on Saturday started to interrogate the crew of an Italian cruise liner, which had smashed into a dock during bad weather at the Red Sea resort town of Sharm Al Shaikh early on Friday.

The accident left three members of the Costa Europa crew dead.

"The pier will be repaired at the expense of the shipping company," said Mamdouh Deraz, the chairman of the Red Sea Ports Authority on Saturday. The official had formed a team to investigate the accident and compile a final report. No oficial charges have been filed against the crew.

"The cause of the crash is a 100 per cent human error," said a maritime official, who asked not to be named because he was not allowed to speak to the media. "And responsibility falls on the captain for this error," he added. "The three dead crewmen [an Indian, a Honduran, and a Brazilian] were working on the lower part of the ship when the smashing occurred and they were submerged by water," he added.

However, in Dubai, Costa Crociere Chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi said: "Preliminary and ongoing investigations revealed that exceptional bad weather conditions and an unexpected wind blow caused the impact of the ship on the pier."

In a press statement he regretted the deaths of the crew members and extended his condolences to their family members. He said all guests have been disembarked and accommodated in hotels. The company is making arrangements of their flights backs to their respective destinations, the release added.

The Costa Europa, a luxury cruise liner, was on an 18-day voyage from Dubai to Savona in Italy and was sailing in Sharm Al Shaikh, which had been battered by fierce winds, when it crashed into the pier early Friday. There were around 1,437 passengers on board and were moved to hotels in the town. No date has yet been set for them to resume the cruise.

"The people injured - three British women and an Italian woman — were discharged from hospital after receiving medical treatment. Meanwhile, the authorities contacted the embassies of the three dead crew to take their bodies," added the official.

The ship is still at the dock pending repair, which officials refused to say how long it will take. The Costa Europa, owned by the Italian company Costa Cruises, had damaged the starboard side of its hull due to the collision, which had left a two-metre-wide hole in the hull.