The skipper of the Coral Princess liveaboard has been arrested by police and placed in custody, following the sinking of the vessel off Sharm el Sheikh on 19 November. Two Spanish diving tourists went missing when the Coral Princess sank and they are both now presumed dead. The 14 remaining crew and passengers survived.
Although divers were involved, the incident has been officially classified as a boating incident, not a diving accident. Under Egyptian law, the reason of the sinking has to be investigated by the local prosecutor. This area falls under the auspices of the Egyptian Maritime Authority as the issuer of the Coral Princess’ navigation licence.
The CDWS regulates the standards of the diving services provided by liveaboards, but does not have any jurisdiction on the safety of boats.
However, CDWS chairman Hesham Gabr has taken steps to personally meet with the family of the missing divers and also offer assistance in trying to locate the area in which the Coral Princess went down. Coordinating with highly experienced skippers and diving experts in Sharm el Sheikh, a search was organised by the CDWS to the possible sinking area using information from survivors.
At approximately 4.30am on the 19 November, one of the surviving divers said he remembered seeing the light of the mosque near Shark;’s Bay and the island of Tiran. He joined the CDWS-led search to the area four days later and – using a margin error of one mile – the team took a GPS mark of the assumed location. This is approximately 4.5 nautical miles from Naama Bay jetty and in water between 1,100m and 1,300m deep.
Equipment to search an area of this depth for a possible salvage operation is not available in Egypt. However, the GPS details have been given to the family of the missing divers in the event that Spanish authorities will agree to supply and transport the necessary equipment to search the vessel.