Brits killed in Egypt boat blaze were below deck: tour company

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Three holidaymakers from the UK killed during a fire onboard an Egyptian diving boat in the Red Sea on Sunday morning died below deck, the tour operator in charge of the vessel has said.

The three British divers, who were on a week-long tour of the area, are thought to have been in their cabins on board the Hurricane when the fire broke out around 8:30 a.m. local time, as they had chosen not to go diving that morning.

The Hurricane caught fire off the resort of Marsa Alam, and was in a “shocking” condition months beforehand, according to former guests.

The vessel had set out from Port Ghalib on Tuesday, and was making its final stop, near Elphinstone Reef, before returning to the resort.

The fire on the boat, which had 11 cabins, was caused by an electrical fault in the engine room, local authorities said.

The boat’s 12 other guests, who were all on deck at the time, as well as its 14 crew, escaped, with a video clip showing people leaping into the water from the vessel amid flames and smoke.

Over the footage, the person taking the video can be heard shouting: “Look, these oxygen tanks are exploding. The boat has gone.”

The relatives of the deceased have been informed by the UK government, though their bodies have not yet been recovered due to the boat’s condition.

Statements were taken from guests and crew after they reached the shore following the evacuation.

Mohamed Bendary, secretary-general of the Red Sea governorate, said a “team from the public prosecution and the criminal laboratory is waiting to examine the boat and determine the cause of the fire.”

The Hurricane’s captain confirmed he was under investigation but declined to comment further.

The 12 British survivors, who lost all their belongings in the blaze, will now travel to Hurghada, where they will receive support and emergency travel documents.

In a statement, Scuba Travel, the company that ran the tour, confirmed that the three British tourists missing after the blaze broke out had died below deck, after crew attempted to reach them before being forced to abandon ship.

“It is with great regret that we, as tour operator, with heavy hearts, must accept that three of our much-valued dive guests perished in the tragic incident,” a spokesman said.

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

Former guests said they had previously complained about the conditions onboard the Hurricane, but were ignored.

Steve Evans told The Times: “We were on the Hurricane last May and wrote emails to complain about the state of the boat. We warned them.

“No one, absolutely no one should have died. Justice should be served to honor the victims and families if it can be proven of lax safety.”

A British tourist from Oxford wrote to Scuba Travel in May 2022 saying: “I was absolutely shocked at the state of the boat. We were told this boat was refurbished but it was quite the contrary.”

The guest added that bathroom facilities were “disgusting” and that there were multiple leaks in the bedrooms.

“We warned you about the state of the refurbishments last year … It was inevitable that a tragedy would one day happen. You were told. Shame on you for not listening. It’s a disgrace,” the former guest wrote to the company following news of the fire.

Scuba Travel said the Hurricane — operated by another company, Tornado Marine Fleet — had an “excellent safety record with us” at the time of previous complaints.

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