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Three missing British tourists confirmed dead after Egypt boat fire

By Mostafa Salem and Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN

(CNN) — Three British tourists died after a boat in Egypt’s Red Sea caught fire on Sunday, British holiday company Scuba Travel said on Monday.

“It is with great regret that we, as Tour Operator, with heavy hearts, 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,” Scuba Travel announced in a statement shared with CNN.

The three deceased British “were among 15 qualified diving enthusiasts who were enjoying a week’s stay on board the dive boat ‘Hurricane,’ operated by Tornado Marine, an operation that Scuba Travel had worked with since 2001 and have an excellent safety record with us,” the statement said.

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

“The severity of the fire meant that the 12 divers were immediately evacuated by rib to another craft nearby and the 14 crew members, including the Captain and two dive guides, having tried to reach the missing guests, also had to abandon ship and were rescued by rib,” the statement added.

Scuba Travel said the 12 guests “who were taken off the dive ship went ashore to Marsa Shagra where they were provided with any medical attention required and gave statements to the local police.”

“As they are without any personal possessions, they will move to a hotel in Hurghada where a representative of Scuba Travel will assist in acquiring clothes and personal effects and where possible, mobile phones,” the statement added.

Scuba Travel urged authorities and police in Egypt “to conduct a full investigation into the cause of the fire, which we and all parties involved are fully supporting.”

Mohamed Bendary, the Red Sea governorate’s secretary-general, told state-run al-Aharm online news that “preliminary investigations have revealed that the fire originated in the boat’s engine room, likely due to an electrical fault.”

“The Public Prosecution is investigating the incident,” Bendary said, as cited by al-Ahram online.

The incident comes just days after a Russian citizen was killed in a shark attack in the popular tourist city of Hurghada on Egypt’s eastern coast.

According to al-Ahram online “the two incidents come as Egypt’s tourism industry has made significant progress in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, receiving a record-breaking 1.35 million tourists in April.”

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Previous reporting from CNN’s Celine Alkhaldi, Radina Gigova and Niamh Kennedy.

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