A view of Saint Catherine city and mountains covered by snow during winter, South Sinai, Egypt (Photo courtesy of discoversinai.net web site)
Egypt's tourism ministry suggested that the eight hikers stranded by a snow storm near Saint Catherine Monastery were responsible for getting lost in the mountains because they set off with inexperienced Bedouin guides.
Their hiking trip was not organised by any official tourism agency under the supervision of the tourism ministry, the ministry's spokesperson Rasha El-Azazi said on Thursday.
The eight Egyptian hikers lost their way in the mountains on Monday after their guide abandoned them. A snow storm soon blew in and four of the hikers died.
According to Bedouin sources near the monastery, the leader of the hikers had bypassed two qualified guides due to their high rates and then hired the inexperienced and cheaper guide.
The guide then misled the group, allowed them to get separated and then left all of them alone on Monday, making his way back to Saint Catherine by himself.