updated 8/18/2009 12:44:47 PM ET 2009-08-18T16:44:47

A Russian scuba diver who was swept away by strong currents in the shark-infested waters off southern Egypt said Tuesday that he managed to survive by swimming some 12 miles back to shore.

Vitaly Ivanov told The Associated Press that he doesn't know what happened to three other Russians who also went missing Monday after a dive in the Red Sea near Marsa Alam, one of Egypt's top diving locations. Several boats and a helicopter carried out an unsuccessful search for the divers that was called off at nightfall.

Ehab Taher, director of the scuba diving tourism office in the Red Sea port of Hurghada, said Ivanov was found early Tuesday morning at a tourist village in al-Quseir, located north of Marsa Alam. The Russian diver spoke to the AP from a hospital in al-Quseir, where he was recovering from his ordeal.

The Russians were part of a group of six who were diving near a pair of islands in the Red Sea called al-Akhawein, or the Brothers, according to the official Egyptian news agency MENA.

The waters around the islands are popular with divers from all over the world because of the chance to spot several kinds of sharks, including hammerheads and oceanic whitetips. But there are often strong currents that can make diving difficult.

At least five Russian divers died in two separate incidents in 2007 in the waters off Marsa Alam, which is located nearly 500 miles south of Cairo.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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