A 12-year-old girl was attacked by a shark in waters off Australia’s tropical northeast coast yesterday, an ambulance official said, the second attack in the region in as many days.
Rescuers were called to Cid Harbour at Whitsunday Island near the Great Barrier Reef in the afternoon and found the girl with bad leg injuries, Queensland Ambulance Service operations manager Tracey Eastwick said.
“The patient’s injuries today are again a shark attack bite to the patient’s thigh area, with significant blood loss,” Eastwick told reporters in Mackay, where the girl is in serious condition in a hospital.
“It is horrific... It is quite confronting to have two similar incidents in the space of 24 hours,” she added.
Australia ranked behind only the US in the number of unprovoked shark encounters with humans last year, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.
The island where the girl was bitten is a popular tourist site 900km northwest of Brisbane.
The attack followed the dramatic rescue of a 46-year-old woman, Justine Barwick, who was bitten by a shark while swimming at dusk from a yacht in the same area on Wednesday evening.
Barwick was badly hurt on the upper right leg and a doctor who was on a nearby boat attended to her until rescuers arrived by helicopter, ambulance officials said.
The doctor, John Hadock, was about to go for a swim when he was summoned to jump into a dinghy and rush to Barwick’s aid.
“I was very worried that I might find severe bleeding still going. They had been able to stop the bleeding, but Justine was very, very ill,” he told Channel Seven television.
Hadock said he treated Barwick before a helicopter crew winched her to safety and flew her to Mackay Base Hospital, where a spokeswoman yesterday said Barwick was in critical condition.
Last year, a spate of shark attacks off Australia’s northeast coast led to the controversial deployment of protective nets, which authorities said would save lives and guard the nation’s reputation as a tourist destination.
However, environmentalists say that the nets can also harm a number of threatened and migratory species.
A teenage girl was killed last year by a shark while surfing at a break off Western Australia State, and a surf competition at Margaret River was canceled after two surfers were bitten by sharks.
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