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British tourist missing after boat catches fire in Egypt’s Red Sea

Egyptian authorities said an electrical short circuit started a fire on a scuba diving boat carrying 15 tourists and 12 crew members near Marsa Alam.

Three British nationals are missing after a scuba diving boat caught fire off Egypt’s Red Sea coast.

In a brief statement on Sunday, Egypt’s Red Sea Governorate said 12 crew members and 12 British tourists had been rescued after a medium-sized scuba diving boat, named “Hurricane”, caught fire near the southern Red Sea resort town of Marsa Alam.

A search party was launched to find the remaining three British tourists, whose identities have not been released.

“The fire started from an electrical short circuit in the boat’s engine room,” Egyptian authorities said after an initial examination of the vessel.

The boat was on a six-day cruise and due to return on Sunday when it caught fire about 25 kilometers (16 miles) north of Marsa Alam.

Britain’s Foreign Office said it was in contact with Egyptian authorities and was “supporting the British nationals concerned”.

Rare in Egypt

Pictures posted on social media show a white motor yacht of the same name on fire at sea, with thick smoke billowing into the sky.

“We saw smoke from the boat, it was about 9 km away [6 miles] from the beach,” said Ahmed Maher, diving manager of Marsa Shagra village. A nearby boat rescued them and took them down.

Fatal boat accidents are rare in Egypt. In 2021, a boat capsized in a lake near the Egyptian Mediterranean city of Alexandria, killing at least five people, including three children.

In 1991, an Egyptian ferry called the Salem Express – traveling from Saudi Arabia to Egypt – sank, killing around 471 people, most of whom were Muslim pilgrims.

Egypt’s Red Sea resorts are among the country’s most famous beach destinations and are popular with European vacationers. The area has cemented its reputation as a dive destination with easy access to coral reefs from shore and dive sites offering a variety of marine life.

In recent years, Egypt has worked hard to strengthen its tourism industry, battered by years of political instability, COVID-19 and the negative economic impact of the war in Ukraine.

Egypt’s tourism sector employs two million people and generates more than 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

On Thursday, a Russian tourist was killed by a shark in the waters off the Egyptian Red Sea city of Hurghada.

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