‘Cursed’ sinkhole has killed hundreds of divers – and bodies still lie there

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It's been described as one of the natural wonders of the world and a majestic "underwater cathedral" of spellbinding beauty.

But to the unsuspecting tourist it can mean death itself, the 120 meter-deep sinkhole having apparently claimed hundreds of lives over the years.

Indeed, it's not for nothing that the Blue Hole in the Red Sea, off the Egyptian coast, has earned itself the nickname of "the divers' cemetery".

And it's believed there are still unrecovered bodies at its bottom even today – just as there are those of climbers who perished on Everest which cannot be safely recovered.

It's a fitting analogy because The Blue Hole is to scuba what such fearsome and treacherous peaks are to mountaineering.

Its sheer depth and disorientating structure – including a cavernous 26-meter long tunnel – often causes nitrogen narcosis, a condition resulting from breathing certain gases at high pressure.

Sufferers experience a sense of confusion not unlike a drunken high and are often left unable to tell up from down.

Dubbed 'the rapture of the deep', some have recounted seeing a bright light which they've swum towards, wrongly believing it to be the ocean's surface.

In reality though, they're just descending deeper and deeper, resulting in many unfortunately losing their lives.

In 1997, the interlocked bodies of two young Irish divers were recovered from the Blue Hole, the pair seemingly entwined in an eternal embrace. In reality, it's likely one grabbed the other whilst panicking and dragged their partner down with them.

A memorial stone to the couple sits on the nearby shore line, along with dozens of others. So many it now resembles a graveyard.

Arguably the most famous is that of an Israeli-Russian called Yuri who, in a macabre twist of fate, recorded his last frantic moments on his own helmet cam in 2000.

The harrowing footage still exists online and serves as a dire warning to others.

Local Bedouin fishermen have attributed the tragedies to an age-old curse, believing the place to be haunted by the spirit of a girl who drowned herself there to avoid being subjected to an arranged marriage.

The harrowing footage still exists online and serves as a dire warning to others.

Local Bedouin fishermen have attributed the tragedies to an age-old curse, believing the place to be haunted by the spirit of a girl who drowned herself there to avoid being subjected to an arranged marriage.

But Tarek Omar from the nearby resort town of Dahab said he knows of "no monster, no mermaid" inhabiting those waters.

A technical diver, he's been responsible for pulling numerous bodies from The Blue Hole, a feat that's earned him the chilling monicker of "bone collector".

"It isn't difficult to dive in the Blue Hole. On the contrary," he told Germany's Der Spiegel. "And that's what makes it risky.

"Many divers underestimate the hole, which quickly turns it into a trap."

And with new holiday makers arriving at nearby Sharm el-Sheikh week in, week out, he knows his unenviable task is set to continue.

Asked about exactly how many bodies he's recovered to date, he replied that he wasn't sure.

"I just stopped counting a some point," he said.

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