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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Egyptian Police End Search for Divers

ReutersBukhmiller holding a diving helmet in Barnaul. He and two other divers disappeared on Nov. 21 in the Red Sea waters.
Egyptian police have halted their search for three missing Russian divers in the Red Sea, but a private diving rescue service said it would continue the search for another day.

The divers disappeared in the Red Sea waters on Nov. 21 while diving at the Elphinstone Reef, southeast of the resort of Marsa Alam.

Russian media have identified the divers as Sergei Gurba, Natalya Doronina and diving instructor Vladimir Bukhmiller, all from Barnaul.

Egypt is a popular destination for Russian tourists thanks to plentiful budget vacation packages and the ease with which tourists can obtain Egyptian visas.

An Egyptian police official said Monday that the government halted its rescue operation because it determined the divers did not survive and that underwater currents would make it impossible to find their bodies. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Alaa El Din Abdelgeleel, the head of the Red Sea Association for Diving and Water Activities, said his agency would continue its efforts to find the missing divers until late Tuesday.

"We have to continue our search for six total days," Abdelgeleel said. "We still have eight boats looking in the deep sea."

Abdelgeleel said Friday that there was only a slim chance of finding the three Russians, citing bad weather, strong winds and high waves.

The three planned to dive at the Elphinstone Reef to a depth of 90 meters, which is illegal. Diving deeper than 40 meters is not permitted in Egypt on compressed air.

On Jan. 5, a Russian died while diving in the Red Sea at the resort of Dahab. Two days later, two other Russian divers and an Egyptian instructor disappeared while exploring a coral reef near Marsa Alam.