This article was reproduced with the kind permission
of the British Broadcasting Corporation
5 February , 2006, 06:59 GMT
The Egyptian authorities have said 380 survivors had been recovered, as well as more than 200 bodies.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak offered condolences to bereaved families, calling the victims martyrs.
A fire broke out on the al-Salam Boccaccio '98 soon after it left the Saudi Arabia port of Duba.
'Titanic on fire'
On Saturday angry relatives at the port of Safaga, the ferry's destination, clashed with police after they claimed they were being left in the dark over rescue attempts.
An investigation has been launched into how the ferry sank, but it may be hampered by the fact the 35-year-old ship sank in some of the Red Sea's deepest waters.
Some claim the Saudi port was still in view when the fire broke out, but the ship sailed on.
One survivor coming ashore at the port of Hurghada shouted: "It was like the Titanic on fire," according to the AP news agency.
Another man, Rifat Said, told reporters: "There was thick smoke. We asked why and they told us they were putting out the fire but it got worse.
"The ferry sailed on for two hours listing to the side. Then it just went onto its side and within five minutes it had sunk."
Raafat al-Sayyed told AFP news agency that passengers were told to gather on the decks so that crew members could extinguish the blaze.
Another Egyptian, Kamel Mohammad Abdel Askari, added: "But the fire continued for a long time, and they (the crew) kept on saying that they were getting it under control."
An Egyptian minister described the fire as "small" and said there was no explosion on board, contrary to reports from some survivors.
His spokesman, Suleiman Awad, said "the speed at which the ship sank and the fact there were not enough life rafts on board confirm that there was a [safety] problem".
"But we cannot anticipate the results of the investigation," he told public television.
No distress signal was said to have been received by Egyptian officials before the ship went down.
Twenty-two more survivors were picked up by Saudi rescue vessels, reports on Saturday said, but officials fear there is little hope of finding others alive more than 36 hours after the tragedy.
Weather conditions have hampered the rescue operation, with high winds and choppy seas.