MENA, Egypt's official news agency, said the Sultan, a nearby vessel, rescued six sailors.

The ship was carrying about 5,600 tonnes of silica sand meant for manufacturing glass, when it went down, Deraz said.

Monday's sinking took place near the location where a ferry sank in Febuary 2006 after a fire broke out on the vessel.

About 1,000 people, mostly Egyptian workers returning home from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, died.