Source AP ©

Search for 3 missing Russian divers stopped

The search for three missing Russian divers in the Red Sea was halted, but a private diving rescue service will still continue the search for another day.

The divers went missing in the Red Sea waters on Wednesday while diving at the Elphinstone Reef, southeast of the resort of Marsa Alam.

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

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

The three were planning to dive at the Elphinstone Reef to a depth of 90 meters (295 feet), which is against the law. Diving deeper than 40 meters (131 feet) is not permitted in Egypt.

On Jan. 5, a Russian died while diving in the Red Sea off the popular resort of Dahab. Two days later, two other Russian divers and an Egyptian scuba diving instructor disappeared while exploring a coral reef near Marsa Alam. Another Russian was found dead Jan. 16 near the shore at Ras Mohammed, a resort on the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula.

Fatal scuba diving accidents are not common in the Red Sea, where thousands of foreigners come annually to scuba dive because of the water's famous coral reefs.