Tue, Dec 07, 2010 - Page 6 News List

Shark kills German woman off Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh

AFP, CAIRO

A shark mauled to death a German woman tourist snorkeling off Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday, in the third shark attack in Egypt’s popular Red Sea resort in a week, local officials said.

Mohammed Salem, director of South Sinai Conservation, said the woman died after a shark attacked her in Naama Bay, only one day after Sharm el-Sheikh reopened its beaches following two other attacks in which Russians were mauled.

“There has been a death unfortunately. She was a German lady. We have taken everyone out of the water,” he said.

Medical officials said the tourist — identified as a woman in her 70s but whose name has not yet been released — was pulled out of the water dead after the shark mauled her thigh and arm.

Egyptian Minister of Tourism Zuhair Garana told reporters all the resort’s beaches had been closed to swimmers, with the exception of Ras Mohammed, a nature preserve south of the city.

The latest attack took place in waters facing the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

UNNATURAL

“We are getting marine biologists from abroad to assess the situation and why there was this change in biological nature,” Garana said, referring to the repeated attacks, which one expert called unprecedented.

“This is unnatural. It has never happened before,” he said. “We have no explanation.”

Government conservation experts said on Friday they captured two sharks, an Oceanic whitetip and a mako, which they believed had mauled two Russian women swimmers on Tuesday and Wednesday last week.

Government workers had dumped chum in the water to attract the sharks.

The resort’s mayor, Gamal al-Mahdi, told reporters the beaches were reopened after authorities deemed there was no further threat off the coast, which attracts between 3 million and 4 million tourists a year.

However, an Egyptian non-governmental organization said on Saturday that at least one of the sharks thought to be behind the attacks was still at large.

The Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association said the captured oceanic whitetip was a different one from the shark caught on film by divers just minutes before it surfaced to attack snorkelers on Tuesday.

EXPLANATIONS SOUGHT

South Sinai Governor Mohammed Shosha has said the sharks could have turned frenzied after a ship transporting livestock dumped dead sheep into the sea, while marine experts said overfishing may have forced them closer to shore.

The string of attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh was “unprecedented,” according to a shark expert Samuel Gruber, who heads Miami’s Bimini Biological Field Station.

“The shark in one day bit more than one person. In all my years reading about shark attacks and writing about them you never hear about sharks biting more than one person,” he said, apart from feeding sprees on shipwreck survivors.

Statistics compiled by the International Shark Attack File reported 61 worldwide attacks in 2009, five of them fatal.

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