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World

Egypt Stamps Wrong Canal On Its Postage

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

All you stamp collectors out there take note. We have some important information for you. In honor of its plans to expand the Suez Canal, Egypt is issuing commemorative stamps. The country meant to celebrate its own canal, which opened in 1869. But instead, the stamp depicts another famed water passage.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The Panama Canal.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

That's right. The Egyptian government put the wrong canal on its stamp. The image in question shows a lush green landscape and ships passing through locks. We put that to Andrew Cairns. He's vice president of the Coasts, Oceans, Ports and Rivers Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers. With a title like that he must know something.

ANDREW CAIRNS: The Suez Canal is what they call a sea-level canal. So there's no locks in it. The ships can sail right through - whereas the Panama Canal has locks where a vessel has to enter. They close both ends. And then they fill it with additional water and raise the elevation up and then open up one end of the gates and let the vessel pass through. So the stamp, you know, clearly indicates a set of locks that you would find at the Panama Canal but not at the Suez Canal.

SIEGEL: You also wouldn't find a lush landscape. You'd be more likely to see a palm tree sprinkled desert along the Suez Canal's banks.

BLOCK: Well, after images of the stamp appeared online, people did complain. The Egyptian government says it will investigate the mistake. And according to local news reports, the postal service does plan to reissue new correct stamps.

SIEGEL: As for civil engineer Andrew Cairns, he thinks we should cut Egypt some slack.

CAIRNS: You know, the one thing - I don't want the Egyptians to feel embarrassed too much about this. I mean, it's - you know, I think it's nice that they're commemorating their canal.

SIEGEL: And Egypt has done some stamp collectors a great service if any of them can get their hands on the first draft of the Suez Canal commemorative stamp. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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