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Ship Owner Pays Millions to Victims, Survivors in Egyptian Ferry Disaster

The owner of an Egyptian ferry that sank in the Red Sea in February, killing 1,000 passengers, is paying millions of dollars to the families of victims and to survivors.

An Egyptian prosecutor announced Tuesday that shipowner Mamdouh Ismail has transferred the money into a compensation fund.

The family of each victim will get $52,000. Each survivor will receive almost $9,000.

The prosecutor says he has lifted a freeze on the assets of Ismail and his family.

The news comes one day after Ismail, his son and four other defendants, accused of negligence, went on trial in Safaga. Ismail and his son are being tried in absentia. They fled the country shortly after the accident.

They allegedly knew about a fire onboard, but failed to act quickly, causing a delay in rescue operations.

It is unclear whether prosecutors will drop charges against Ismail now that he has paid compensation.

The ferry was carrying more than 1,400 passengers as it traveled from Duba in Saudi Arabia to Safaga. Fire broke out on the car deck, and the crew decided to continue rather than turn back.

Egypt has an international arrest warrant out for Ismail and his son Amr.

A report by Egypt's parliament noted safety violations onboard, including a shortage of fire extinguishers and life rafts. The crew tried to put out the fire with water hoses. The car deck filled with water, and the ship capsized.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.