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The Giftuns’ Corpse

Old Diver Diaries .. 4th Episode

In the late 90s, I was the director of the diving center in Magawish Hurghada and at the same time a member of Board of Directors of the Red Sea Society. We have heard about the presence of a diver’s dead body, periodically reported by guides and diving agents in different Hurghada centers for months, until it became a “Well Known” that there was a body in “Hamada”.

For those who do not know “Hamadah” is a beautiful place to dive in the east of the large island of Giftun. It is located in a corridor separating the two Giftun islands from each other, so it is also called “Between The Gidtuns”.

What is strange about this body is that no resort, diving company or dive center has officially been reported to any diver, tourist or missing person. Over time, the subject has become an undeniable fact, especially when a French client (finally) officially reported to the coast guards, so that corpse presence became official.

Official Orders

Red Sea Governor,  General Saad Abu Raidah, had instructed the Red Sea Society to retrieve the body and give the Society a boat belonged to the government, which awarded the slowest boat all over the Red Sea.

The boat started sailing  on afternoon to the rescue site and on board Karim Helal and Hisham Tamoum and me, and the choice of this time was intended to be lifted after the departure of diving trips so that tourists do not see the tragedy of the exit of the body.

We arrived at “Hamadah” after a lot of trouble and we waited till the last boat left, we divided the area into three sections so everyone of us dive alone to search for the body, at the end of the dive we all returned with nothing. No one was able to see the body, although the depth was specific to us is 70 meters!

“The Fast” Flipper  

The next day I took the boat of Magawish Center called “Flipper” which is relatively fast, under the leadership of the brothers Shaaban and Ahmed to save time, but of course I had to prepare Rayes Shaban and I swear to him most faithfully I will not put the body in the case of extraction on the deck, because the people of the sea have a pessimistic believes about corpse on the deck of a boats, in the same time the coast guards brought the French tourist who reported about the body, to help us in allocating it.

We started out second trial to recover the body, this time was me and Karim only, accompanied by the French tourist. Karim hold on his back a twin cylinder, and me only one cylinder and on my hand a spare cylinder 15 liter capacity for the Deco stops.

We We took with us huge plastic bags with ropes for bounding the corpse, the French tourist said that he was going to dive first and show us the place, we met him at 40 meter depth and he pointed to us that towards the place of the corpse, then he left us to the surface.

The Corpse Pulls us to the Surface

We first brought the diver’s body to a lower depth to provide air and deco time, but we were unable to exceed the depth of 40 meters up because the diver had begun to turn into a positive buoyancy, despite the presence of a lead belt. I gave the extra air cylinder to Karim because he preferred to let me to “handle the situation”, I began to bound the diver from one of his hands in the reef and I passed the fins to Karim, also removed the lead belt from the body, his body and legs soaked because his hand was still tied, I wore it a bag from its feet up to its waist and tightened the lace on its feet around the heels, then tied the rope of the feet in the reef and unbound the hand rope so the diver’s body looks stood standing, I removed the BCD and cylinder and then put another bag from his head to his waist and tightened the ropes to the waist with the two bags and on his neck, then it became ready.

 

In the meantime, Karim had removed the weights from the belt because he did not find signs indicating to a diving center, and put the belt, mask, and fins in one of the bags to identify the related diving center, I took my extra cylinder back and the corpse’s cylinder, so Karim became responsible for the body, he grabbed it from the rope attached to the feet and it became like a hydrogen balloon, it almost dragged him to the surface beyond the implementation of Deco stops.

I told Karin through hand signals to leave the body to float to the surface, and the people on the boat found a tied corps jumped to the surface. Someone jumped from the boat towards the body and tied it on the buoys, and waited for us to ascend and the coast guards boat to collect the body.

Waiting for the Boat

Me and Karim completed the deco stops and then ascended and found the situation was critical, the sunset approached and the body is tied and the boat wasn’t arrived and Flipper won’t to move the body, my decision to leave the body until the coast guard would come even after a month. “I will not convey it”, so we actually left the place and left the body alone behind us and its smell still chasing us until it became far from our sight.

 

When we connect the mobile signal on our way back, we received a call from Maj. Al-Koumi at the coast guard Police. He said that he wanted to force the captain of Flipper to return back and collect to the body. But I told him that I won’t do that no matter what it cost, at the end, the military orders turned into a personal civilized request, that if we please to collect the body because there are a lot of people waiting and need to finish this issue as soon as possible.

A Compromise 

I told the captain of the boat that we’ll go back to the body, but he looked at me and said “You promised me doctor”, I told him not to worry. Whrn we arrived to the body, I tried to drag it by the boat, but I realized that it will torn into pieces, after 10 min Allah helped to figure it out.

I torn the remaining plastic bags and tied to each other like a stretcher, then I put the body on it and tied the body at the side of the boat, this way the body not in water and also not on the boat, we moved the body and I kept my promise. When we arrive to the touristic scaffold, the gathered poeple starts to leave the harbor because of the horrible smell.

Unknown Diver

Till today no one knows the real personality of the diver, or the dive center that he belongs to.

I left Magaweesh few years later, and I didn’t see captain Shaaban and his brother, until I decided to lift the sunken boat on Om Jamr in 2012, and that’s another story.

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Hossam Nassef

I am a Diving Medicine Consultant operating in Hurghada and Marsa Alam, I do Underwater Photography (visit my web site www.redseadiversandphotographers.com), Desert Safaris.

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