Tour operator says 3 UK nationals missing in Red Sea boat fire are dead

Group’s scuba boat went up in flames off the coast of the Egyptian resort town of Marsa Alam on Sunday

A screenshot from video shows a ship called Hurricane after it caught fire in Egypt's Red Sea, June 11, 2023. (Twitter video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A screenshot from video shows a ship called Hurricane after it caught fire in Egypt's Red Sea, June 11, 2023. (Twitter video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

CAIRO  — Three British nationals who went missing after a scuba diving boat they were cruising in caught fire in the Red Sea off the Egyptian coast have died, a UK-based tour operator said Monday,

Egyptian authorities said the three went missing when a medium-sized scuba vessel named “Hurricane” went up in flames off the southern Red Sea resort town of Marsa Alam on Sunday. The blaze was caused by an electrical short circuit in the boat’s engine room, they said.

We “must accept that three of our much-valued dive guests, who had not participated in the dive briefing early on the morning of June 11, perished in the tragic incident,” the UK-based Scuba Travel said in a short statement.

The company did not say how it determined the three are dead and Egyptian authorities have said only that they are missing. Scuba Travel has not identified the three.

Twelve other British divers and 14 Egyptian crew members were evacuated Sunday morning from the vessel in a rescue operation near the Elphinstone Reef, Scuba Travel said in a short statement. All 15 tourists were qualified divers on a weeklong cruise, it said.

“At the time the fire broke out 12 divers were participating in a briefing on board, while those missing had apparently decided not to dive that morning,” the statement said.

Scuba Travel spokesperson Pat Adamson told The Associated Press that the tour operator was unable to provide any details about where the three guests were when the fire broke out at 8:30 a.m. local time Sunday or the location of the bodies. However, he said it was normal for guests to opt out of early morning dives during week-long trips.

Adamson said the tour company has not received any confirmation from Egyptian authorities that an investigation team has boarded the boat. The company is waiting for a full investigation.

Egypt’s Red Sea coastline has some of the country’s most renowned beach destinations and are popular with European holiday goers. It has cemented its reputation as a dive destination with easy access to coral reefs from shores and dive sites offering diverse marine life.

In recent years, Egypt has gone to great lengths to bolster its tourism industry, hurt by years of political instability, COVID-19 and the negative economic effect of the war in Ukraine.

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