It was the third terror strike on a Sinai resort in less than two years and, once again, it happened as Egyptians were enjoying a national holiday.
Police on Tuesday said they had detained for questioning 10 people – three of whom had arrived in Dahab a day before the attack and tried to leave the resort in a car with false number plates 15 minutes after the explosions.
The police said they did not know whether the explosions on Monday – timed for maximum destruction in a promenade of bars, restaurants and shops in the early evening – were caused by suicide bombers or bombs on timers.
“The theory is not clear yet,” cabinet spokesman Magdy Rady said.
Police divers worked to retrieve body parts from the shallow waters of the sea as workers swept shards of glass from the streets on Tuesday morning.
Russian Valentina Zharikova
Nearby, outside the supermarket where one blast occurred, a tiny shoe covered in blood lay on top of a baby stroller. Witnesses said the stroller belonged to foreign twin infants who they said looked European.
One twin was inside the shop with the mother when the blast occurred, and the other outside in the stroller, said Mohammed Emad, 16, who sells spices at the market and whose hand was hurt by flying glass.
The boy said he went with the mother and twins to hospital, where one of the twins died and the mother remained severely wounded. “I pushed the stroller away out of the doorway” after the blast, he said.
Another witness said tourists did not know where to run as the blasts kept coming.
“I heard the first bomb, I started running. When I heard the second one, we were still running,” said Johanna Sarjas, a journalist from Finland who was on holiday.
A Dahab resident sits next to one
“It was chaotic because we didn’t know in which direction to run. You didn’t know where the next bomb would come from,” she said.
Habib el-Adly, the interior minister, put the death toll at 23 – 20 Egyptians and three foreigners. But Sinai hospital officials said that an Egyptian man had died of his wounds, bringing the toll to 24.
Rady said later on Tuesday that 18 people had died – 12 Egyptians and six foreigners. The discrepancy in tolls could not be explained.
Dr Hazem Ahmed of Sharm el-Sheik Hospital said 85 people were wounded – a figure that Rady confirmed. His hospital had admitted 10 foreign patients.
One of the dead was a 10-year-old German boy, whose mother and male family friend were wounded, the German foreign ministry said. Police said one Russian and one Swiss were killed, but el-Adly would not confirm those nationalities.
At least three Israelis also were hurt in the attack.
Sandals remain in a pool of blood
Some tourists in Dahab said they were not deterred.
Aurore Trepo, 27, a Frenchwoman who arrived hours before the blasts, said she was shocked by the attack, “but I don’t want this to change my holiday plan. My mom wants us to go back to France, but I think we will stay”.
Her boyfriend, Matthiew Leuwerf, 29, concurred, saying: “I don’t want to change my plans because of terrorists.”