ISMAILIA, Egypt – Two Spanish tourists were missing in the Red Sea on Thursday after their dive boat sank in rough water off Egypt’s Sinai coast, a popular beach holiday and diving destination, a medical official said.
Fourteen other Spanish tourists and seven Egyptian crew were rescued after the boat capsized and sank near Ras Mohamed. A naval boat was looking for the missing tourists, but had not spotted them more than five hours after the accident, the official said.
The privately-owned boat left the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh heading to Ras Mohamed, home to abundant coral reefs and a British Merchant Navy shipwreck that is a popular dive site.
Egypt has seen several fatal accidents involving tourists this year. A shark killed a French tourist at a remote Red Sea dive site in June, and 10 Serbian tourists died a month later when their tour bus crashed near the coastal resort of Hurghada.
Tourist arrivals to Egypt are expected to slip by 1 to 3 percent in 2009 on the back of the global economic downturn, less than feared, and will grow again in 2010 as Europe rebounds, Tourism Minister Zoheir Garrana has said.
Egypt, after months of decline, saw tourism numbers advance by 10.7 percent in September compared to a year earlier, spurred by strong Russian and British arrivals, Garrana said.