Three British divers who went missing during fire on ship off the coast of Egypt have died, tour operator confirms

12 June 2023, 07:58 | Updated: 12 June 2023, 08:46

Three divers have died after a fire broke out on the vessel they were staying on
Three divers have died after a fire broke out on the vessel they were staying on. Picture: Social media/Google Maps

By Will Taylor

Three British divers have died after a fire broke out on a ship in the Red Sea off the coast of Egypt.

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A fire broke out on a dive ship on the morning of June 11, near Elphinstone Reef, during a briefing.

Scuba Travel, which ran the diving tour the Brits were on, said the three Brits appeared to have decided they would not take part in a dive that morning.

The other 12 divers were taken away by boat, while the 14 crew members, including the captain, were evacuated after trying to find the three, the company added.

It said in a statement 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.

"Our sincere and heartfelt condolences go out to their families and friends at this very sad time."

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Images showed a massive fire at the rear of the ship
Images showed a massive fire at the rear of the ship. Picture: Social media

The three, who were not named by the operator, were among 15 "qualified diving enthusiasts" staying aboard the Hurricane for a week, the company said.

It said the boat was operated by Tornado Marine, "an operation that Scuba Travel had worked with since 2001 and have an excellent safety record with us".

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The statement 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 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."

It said the Foreign Office has contacted their families.

The divers were at Elphinstone Reef, off Egypt's Red Sea coast
The divers were at Elphinstone Reef, off Egypt's Red Sea coast. Picture: Google Maps

Social media images showed a huge blaze at the back of the ship, with smoke billowing so high it could be seen from the shoreline about five miles away.

It is being towed to port but has been smouldering and needed to cool down first.

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Local authorities are investigating what happened and Scuba Travel said it is fully supporting that.

"Scuba Travel wish to thank the Foreign and Commonwealth Department and Consular Office in Cairo for doing all possible to expedite emergency travel documents for the guests wishing to travel back to the UK, something which they hope to achieve early in the coming week," the business said.

It was reported that a seven-night trio costs about £1,500.

The boat was said to have left Port Ghalib on June 6.

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