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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 October, 2004, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Death toll rises in Egypt blasts
Israeli and Egyptian rescue teams at the scene of the Taba blast
Israeli and Egyptian rescuers discuss their next moves
The death toll from Thursday's bomb blasts in Egypt's Red Sea resorts has risen to 34, Egyptian officials say.

A statement by the Egyptian interior ministry said 105 people were injured.

The Hilton hotel in Taba, on Egypt's border with Israel, was hit by the biggest explosion. Two smaller blasts killed two people in Nuweiba.

Most victims of are thought to be Israelis but Egyptians and Russians also died. Israel suspects al-Qaeda involvement in the attacks.

Rescuers on Saturday were still combing through the wreckage of the Hilton hotel amid reports that at least 10 people may be under the rubble.

Investigation

Rescuers say it will take at least two more days to search through the debris.

"Hope is our fuel. We are hoping there is a pocket of air where someone could be alive," said Colonel Gideon Bar-On, commander of the Israeli army search and rescue unit.

I was in the casino when it happened. There was a massive explosion and the left wall came down
Yigal Vakni
Witness

"It could take days for this fog on the details and identities to clear up," he was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Israeli officials have said it is too early to say who carried out the attacks but that they bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda or al-Qaeda affiliated groups.

The Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have denied involvement.

On Saturday, Egyptian investigators said they had identified a number of suspects.

"Thirteen suspects among those possibly linked to the attacks are currently under tight surveillance," a police source told the AFP news agency.

The head of Israel's internal security service Shin Bet, Avi Dichter, toured the Taba blast scene with Egyptian officials on Saturday.

Missing

The Hilton was almost full, with 900 guests - more than half of them Israelis and some 250 Russians - staying there when the bombers struck.

RECENT MAJOR ATTACKS ON ISRAELI/JEWISH TARGETS OUTSIDE ISRAEL
1985: Palestinian militants attack El-Al counters at Rome and Vienna airports simultaneously, killing 19
1986: Gunmen kill 22 worshippers in a raid on an Istanbul synagogue
1992: Car bomb attack on Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires kills 29 people
1994: At least 96 people are killed in the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires
2002: Bombing of Israeli-owned hotel near the Kenyan resort of Mombasa kills 16 people
2003: Car bombs explode outside two synagogues in Istanbul killing 25 people

Israeli officials said the attack was caused by a car bomb, which exploded after the vehicle rammed the hotel, and a suicide bomber who detonated a separate bomb.

Part of a 10-storey wing of the hotel came crashing down.

More than 20 bodies inspected by Israel police's criminal identification unit were of Israeli nationals, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported.

At least five Egyptians and one Russian also died in the attacks, officials said.

Russian embassy officials say they are still searching for 12 Russian nationals who were holidaying in Taba and are unaccounted for.

Two Italian sisters are also reported to be missing.

The other two bombings were in a campsite at Ras al-Shitan, an area that is popular with young Israeli backpackers.

Thousands of Israeli tourists have returned home.

Warnings

Israel has now told its citizens to leave Egypt, and the US and Germany have warned their citizens against travelling in the Sinai peninsula.

It is the first major attack on Egyptian soil since the mass killing in the city of Luxor in 1997, in which 58 tourists were shot or hacked to death by Islamist militants.

Security on the Sinai coast has remained relatively lax because Israelis see this zone as an extension of their homeland.

Taba is the main crossing point between Israel and Egypt, and a major gateway for thousands of Israelis going on holiday to resorts and hotels on the Red Sea.

Last month, the Israeli government urged its citizens not to visit the country, saying there had been a firm threat to tourists there.

The bombings are the first major attack on Israelis abroad since the bombing two years ago of a hotel near the Kenyan resort of Mombasa, in which some 16 people died.


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