(BBC) Rescuers are searching for survivors of three bomb blasts at Egyptian resorts popular with Israelis in which at least 27 people died. The biggest of the explosions, at the Hilton hotel in Taba, on Egypt’s border with Israel, killed 25 people.
The others hit a backpacker camping area near the resort of Nuweiba, 60km (38 miles) further south, killing a further two. Israeli officials say they suspect al-Qaeda involvement.
The Taba attack was caused by a car bomb which blew up after ramming the hotel, and moments later a suicide bomber had detonated a separate bomb, Israeli officials said.
An Israeli general says 122 people were wounded there.
The other two bombings were in a campsite at Ras al-Shitan, an area that is popular with young Israeli backpackers.
The dead are believed to be mainly Israeli, with a few Egyptians and at least one Russian. Some Britons were also wounded in the Taba attack.
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.
It is also 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.
Ten floors of Taba’s Hilton hotel have collapsed.
Israeli rescue teams with bulldozers and cranes have headed across the border towards the hotel to look through the wreckage.
There was still hope of finding people alive in the rubble on Friday “because there are several air pockets”, senior Israeli army officer Yair Naveh told the Associated Press news agency.
Earlier, an elderly Israeli woman and her granddaughter were pulled out alive from the ruins after emergency crews heard a cry from the seventh floor, Reuters news agency reports. The grandmother later died of her wounds, officials said.
Casualties are being treated in Taba and the nearby Israeli resort of Eilat.
Specialist religious teams who recover body parts following suicide attacks in Israel have also been sent in.
This indicates there is co-operation between Israel and Egypt, says the BBC’s James Reynolds on the Israeli-Egyptian border.
Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Zeev Boim, who is in Taba, said it was too early to say who carried out the attacks, which could not have been anticipated.
But he told reporters: “In my personal opinion, it seems that it is more fitted to the international terror groups like al-Qaeda or some branches of al-Qaeda.”
The Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have denied they were involved.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have agreed in the aftermath of the blasts to reinforce co-operation to fight terrorism together. Mr Sharon also thanked Mr Mubarak for Egypt’s help in evacuating the casualties.
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.
Many holidaymakers would have been celebrating the last day of a Jewish holiday, Sukkot.
The Israeli government has told them to get out of Egypt. Hundreds of Israeli tourists walking across the border quietly and sadly, many with tears in their eyes, our correspondent says.
Last month, the Israeli government urged its citizens not to visit Egypt, saying there had been a firm threat to tourists there.
The Hilton hotel is cut off from the outside world by the Israeli border to the north and an Egyptian checkpoint immediately to the south.
The Egyptian authorities have long regarded the eastern Sinai coast, along the Gulf of Aqaba, as less likely terrorist targets than the great monuments along the Nile.
It is a long way across the barren peninsula and security is fairly easily enforced.