Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi commissioned on Monday afternoon a military aircraft to search for five citizens who are missing in Aswan Governorate.
Armed forces spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali said on his official Facebook page that the defence minister’s decision comes as a “quick response” to the news of the missing citizens.
The citizens reportedly went missing in a mountainous area in the vicinity of the Cajoug village in Kom Ombo, Aswan. State run Al-Ahram reported that they had been headed to a mine in the village, however a military source said those missing had been reported missing during a safari trip.
The military source stated that the wife of one of those missing had received a phone call from her husband on Monday morning telling her that they are missing in the mountainous Gebaila area and one of them is dead. The wife reported the incident to the Aswan Crisis Centre which in turn notified the armed forces.
Upon investigating the matter, the military source said the armed forces had not been notified of a planned safari trip in the Gebaila area. The source added that any travel agency preparing a safari is obliged to notify the armed forces of the planned trip. He also stated that people usually head to the Gebaila area in search of gold.
In February, eight hikers became lost in Saint Catherine, Sinai, during a blizzard that kept them trapped in the isolated Bab El-Donya Mountain. Four hikers died before the group was rescued; the remaining four were found in poor health conditions.
Following the incident, the armed forces were accused of negligence toward stranded hikers’. Before the fourth hiker was found dead, Ali issued a statement saying that a military search for the missing hiker was underway. Former Defence Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi had ordered army search and rescue aircraft as well as pedestrian patrols to comb the area.
The body of the final hiker, Mohamed Ramadan, was found five days after the group went missing.
On 22 February, South Sinai Governor Khalid Fouda sacked the head of Saint Catherine city, citing negligence toward the lost hikers.