Dozens reported dead and wounded in tourist town blasts

Three explosions rocked Egypt’s Sinai resort town of Dahab on Monday night, leaving at least 25 people dead and 150 wounded.

One blast hit a hotel, a second a restaurant and the third explosion rocked the resort town’s market area about 7:15 p.m. local time (1715 GMT). Egyptian authorities said the blasts were likely not caused by suicide bombers but rather bombs that had been planted.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Dr. Said Essa, head of the Egyptian rescue forces in the region, said at least 17 people were killed at the el-Khaleeg Hotel alone.
An official with the local ambulance service said many of the dead appeared to be foreigners but there were no immediate reports of any Israeli casualties.
Rescue forces in the southern Israeli city of Eilat are on highest alert and are prepared for an evacuation of wounded Israelis back north across the border.
Magen David Adom emergency medical services said is has about 20 ambulances were standing by at the Taba border crossing between Israel and Egypt if needed.
MDA offered rescue assistance to its Egyptian counterpart through the International Red Cross and the Egyptian Red Crescent but has not received a reply, the service said in a statement.
Eilat’s hospital is calling on people to donate blood.
Channel 10 TV reported the Israel Defense Forces had closed the Taba crossing, preventing vehicles from entering Sinai. It said a stream of Israeli vehicles were leaving Egypt.
“We don’t know of Israelis” who were hurt, Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, Shalom Cohen, told Channel 10, though some Israelis were known to be in Dahab.
Cohen said the best thing Israeli tourists in Sinai could do now would be to “go home.”
Cohen said there have been repeated warnings from the Israeli government against visiting the Sinai Desert, where Israelis have been targeted in attacks in the past.
“Unfortunately, the warnings came true,” he said.
This is high tourist season – part of a five-day Egyptian holiday – and hotels all along the Egyptian coasts could be expected to be at near capacity.
“There is smoke coming from the area and there are people running everywhere,” said a witness, who did not want to be named.
Body parts and debris were seen in the streets after an explosion in a tourist restaurant, other residents said. One visitor said cars and buses leaving the resort were being stopped by police.
“There were body parts and debris in the street … There are ambulances and cars taking people to hospital,” said another resident who also did not want to be named.
Dahab is located on on the Gulf of Aqaba on the eastern side of the Sinai Peninsula. Monday is part of a five-day spring holiday in Egypt.
There have been a string of attacks in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula over the past 18 months, including deadly Al-Qaida-style bombings in the Egyptian resorts of Taba and
Ras Shitan in October 2004 and in Sharm el-Sheikh in July.
Groups claiming links to Al-Qaida took responsibility for those attacks, and Egyptian authorities say new Islamic militant groups have arisen in the peninsula – but they are still trying to determine if they have any real connection to al-Qaida or other international terrorists.