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Three Britons missing after boat fire in Egypt’s Red Sea

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CAIRO: Three British tourists were missing on Sunday after a motor yacht caught fire in Egypt’s Red Sea, authorities said.

The Red Sea governorate said in a statement that “15 English passengers, 10 members of the crew, and two tour guides” had been rescued, and that the search for the three missing was ongoing. Video circulating on media and on­line showed a white motor yacht named “Hurricane” with flames erupting from it.

The Hurricane is one of several operated by Tornado Marine Fleet.

A spokesman said the fire happened while crew were doing the diving briefing at Elphinstone Reef — a diving destination known for its wealth of marine life including colourful corals and sharks.

Initial reports blamed the fire on an electrical fault in the engine room, officials said.

The boat was on a six-day cruise and due back on Sunday when the blaze broke out while it was about 25 kilometres (15 miles) north of the coastal town of Marsa Alam.

“We saw smoke from the boat, it was around 9km from the beach,” said Ahmed Maher, a diving manager at Marsa Shagra village. “A nearby boat rescued them and dropped them off.”

Britain’s Foreign Office said it was in contact with local authorities about the incident and supporting nationals involved.

Scuba Travel, which chartered the boat, said the group on board had been on a seven-day tour and the company was working with the local authorities and specialist advisers.

“Our first priority is the safety of our guests,” a spokesman said.

The Red Sea is a major tourist destination in Egypt, a country of 105 million in serious economic crisis. The sector employs two million people and generates more than 10 per cent of GDP.

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

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2023

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