Woman dies in Red Sea liveaboard fire
The diving liveaboard Red Sea Aggressor 1 sank after catching fire in the early hours of 1 November. One female guest died in the blaze, but the other 18 guests and 12 Egyptian crew managed to escape uninjured from the vessel.
The fire, cause unknown, broke out on the 36m liveaboard while the occupants were sleeping. The vessel, formerly the Suzanna, was moored overnight near Port Ghalib, its home port, on the last night of a seven-night trip covering the Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone itinerary.
Occupants had to evacuate the liveaboard hurriedly after being awoken by the smell of fumes, and were picked up by crew of the Emperor Fleet liveaboard Asmaa, moored nearby, before being taken ashore. The fate of the missing woman remains unclear.
In response to Divernet’s requests for clarification of the incident, Aggressor Adventures CEO Wayne B Brown said: “As you know, misinformation is common in the initial days following unforeseen events. We are being very open and honest on what we know as facts become available but, unfortunately, factual information is emerging slowly, even to us.
“We do not speculate. So as we’re able to review all statements given, we begin to get a better picture of what has occurred. However, we know in the big picture that, unfortunately, there was a tragedy of a diver losing their life, and the rest had to evacuate with little to no possessions.
“The ground team in Egypt responded quickly in getting everyone into an all-inclusive resort to ensure their basic needs were being met, and then assembled cash so they could get some clothing and sundries at the limited shops available in Port Ghalib.
“They also spent a day and a half working with tourist police gaining approval for us to relocate them to Cairo. Egypt does not allow tourists to relocate without prior approvals that usually occur behind the scenes.
“We immediately secured hotels and transportation to the embassies in Cairo, even before they ever left Port Ghalib. The Cairo team then helped everyone with rearranging and paying for their return flights as well as some more shopping for clothes, luggage etc.
“Once on land, was everything executed perfectly? No. But rather accept it given the challenging circumstances, we are regrouping to assess how we can continue to improve our procedures and practices.
“As a company and divers ourselves, we have always been extremely safety-driven, and when any event happens anywhere in the dive industry, we use that to look internally for any changes we may need to make to try and prevent that occurrence with our own guests.”
9 November 2019
Brown said that following the recent Conception dive-liveaboard fire in California, in which 34 passengers and crew died and overnight battery-charging was one suspected cause “we directed every destination to ensure that no charging was done unattended and that all lithium charging was done outside at the designated charging areas.
“We also had them review their emergency-exit plans, fire-escapes and smoke-detectors for proper working order and that their firefighting gear was operational.”
Brown also addressed the comments of a passenger online that he had not heard a smoke-detector alarm, as well as research indicating that smoke-detectors that work when activated by their test button won’t necessarily be activated by smoke.
“We will start requiring the testing of our smoke-detectors with cans of fake smoke to ensure proper operation. That is just one of the many procedures we are looking to implement across our fleet to further strengthen our guest safety and, of course, customer confidence.”
On its website Aggressor Adventures has stated that it is “deeply saddened by the unfortunate events that took place in the Red Sea last week, resulting in the loss of a diver’s life. To her family and friends, we extend our deepest sympathies and condolences.” An official investigation is under way and members of the Red Sea Aggressor crew are reported to have been helping the police with their enquiries.