Saint Catherine Mount during winter (Photo: Archives)
Three Egyptian hikers have died and one remains missing near Mount Sinai in Egypt's Saint Catherine area after a blizzard stranded them in the mountains.
The trouble began on Saturday, when a team of eight Egyptian hikers, five men and three women, took off without a guide in the mountains around Saint Catherine Monastery in South Sinai, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic news website. The weather soon turned foul and the hikers lost their way.
Seven of the hikers, three of whom had already frozen to death, were initially rescued by a group of local Bedouins who had used their knowledge of the terrain to conduct a search mission. The surviving hikers were transported by camelback to a wide clearing at Farsh Al-Rommana, where they were met by an army helicopter.
The helicopter then air-lifted them out of the mountains and brought them to Saint Catherine Hospital on Sunday, army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Mohamed Ali said on Monday.
The four surviving hikers are Yosra Mounir, Maha El-Aswad, Ihab Qotb and Mahmoud Farouk. Their conditions are stable, according to friends who visited them at Saint Catherine Hospital.
The three dead hikers are Hagar Shalaby, Khaled Sabaei and Ahmed Abel-Azim. Their bodies are scheduled to be transfered to Cairo on Tuesday night.
Monday's search for the eighth missing hiker, filmmaker Mohamed Ramadan, ended at nightfall, but sources told Ahram Online that it would continue at first light Tuesday morning.
Friends of Ramadan and the late hikers launched a social media campaign requesting authorities to continue the search after it was reported that the rescue operation had been halted.
On Tuesday afternoon, the army's spokesman said that a military search and rescue helicopter was currently combing the area to find Ramadan.