The incident occurred at 8:30 am local time while the crew and passengers were attending the morning dive briefing. The day’s destination was Elphinstone Reef, a renowned location known for its abundant marine life and vibrant coral reefs.
The dive cruise had set sail from Port Ghalib on the 6th of June and the incident took place on the 11th. Among the 15 British passengers onboard, three were not participating in the diving activities that day. The 12 passengers who were present at the dive briefing were promptly and safely evacuated using rescue boats. Regrettably, the remaining three individuals could not be rescued in time and tragically lost their lives. The 14 crew members made valiant efforts to save these passengers but ultimately had to abandon the ship as it became untenable. The survivors were transported to the nearest port of Marsa Shagra, where they received medical attention and provided detailed accounts of the incident to the police. The British passengers were also assisted in returning to the UK, as their belongings and passports were lost in the onboard blaze.
Witnesses from nearby boats described the scene as horrific, with the Hurricane quickly becoming engulfed in flames at the stern, causing thick black smoke that reduced visibility in the area. The smoke was visible for kilometers around the vessel. Investigations into the cause of the fire revealed that it originated from a short-cut circuit in the engine room, resulting in a spark. The damaged ship was towed to a port and cooled with necessary agents to lower the temperature of the metal before arrival. Built in 2004, the Hurricane featured twin diesel engines, entertainment systems, and even a whirlpool. The company claimed to have equipped the vessel with an adequate alarm and firefighting system for emergencies, but sadly, the luxury ship is now a charred wreck.
A few incidents have come to public attention. However, it is important to note that there may have been other fatal incidents that went unreported. In 2021, a boat capsized, claiming the lives of nine people, including three children. Several individuals were also classified as missing. The boat owner was arrested for operating the vessel commercially without the necessary permits. Although the exact cause of the capsizing remains unknown, overcrowding and unstable weather conditions were cited as contributing factors. The largest recorded accident in the region occurred in 1991, when a ferry carrying mostly pilgrims sank while crossing from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, resulting in the loss of 471 lives.
The fatalities resulting from these incidents were unfortunate experiences for the survivors and their families. Nevertheless, non-fatal accidents are more common. Last April, another liveaboard named Carlton Queen capsized near Hurghada, an area known as Egypt’s Bermuda Triangle. The 42-meter-long ship put 26 passengers from various nationalities at risk. These passengers reported that they noticed the ship tilting to one side as it departed from the port. Thankfully, all passengers survived, although a few were taken to the hospital to treat minor injuries. Despite this, the terrifying incident could have easily claimed more lives of those trapped in their cabin, unable to open doors due to water pressure. They were saved by other passengers who were able to break the glass, allowing water to flow and providing an exit. As a result of this accident, the passengers filed a lawsuit against the Carlton Fleet, citing endangerment of life and demanding proper refurbishment of boats before cruising.
Another boat, named New Dream, began gradually sinking just south of Marsa Alam after running aground, colliding with coral reefs and damaging its hull. The 35 individuals on board, including eight crew members, two local guides, and 26 Polish passengers, were rescued by another luxury ship that responded to New Dream’s distress call. All individuals received the necessary medical attention, despite not sustaining any serious injuries.
In conclusion, the fire incident on the Hurricane Liveaboard in the Red Sea serves as a tragic reminder of the potential risks involved in maritime activities. While such accidents are infrequent, they highlight the importance of prioritizing safety measures and emergency preparedness in the maritime industry.
Will five accidents raise awareness in divers to check the status of the dive boat before heading out for a safari? I don’t know that but lets hope that this was the last accident this year in Egypt.
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