Shark attack kills two tourists in Red Sea

Shark attack kills two tourists in Red Sea
Both the attacks took place within 600 metres of each other

Several beaches on Egypt‘s Red Sea coast were shut down after two women, one Austrian and another Romanian, were killed in shark attacks over the weekend.

“Two women were attacked by a shark while swimming” in the Sahl Hasheesh area, south of the city of Hurghada, the Egyptian ministry of environment said on Sunday.

Both the attacks reportedly took place within 600 metres of each other, off the coast of Sahl Hasheesh, with a Mako shark being responsible for at least one of the deaths.

A 68-year-old woman from Austria’s Tyrol region, who was on a vacation to Egypt, succumbed on Friday after losing an arm and a leg in an attack by a Mako shark while swimming in the Red Sea.

A Romanian woman was found dead on Sunday after being attacked by a shark. The Romanian foreign ministry said it was working to identify the victim, while getting the body repatriated.

A purported video widely shared online, that The Independent couldn’t verify, showed the Austrian woman being attacked relatively close to the shore, as seen from a nearby pier. The video shows the woman struggling as the water around her turns red as bystanders on the pier throw a flotation device toward her.

“I saw the shark turning and twisting the woman in the water. I didn’t manage to film it, but she was twisted in the water,” an eyewitness was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying.

Sources told Reuters that the Austrian woman had been living in Egypt over the past five years with her Egyptian husband.

Following the attacks, Egyptian authorities closed off a stretch of the country’s Red Sea coastline and banned water activities such as diving, snorkelling, windsurfing and kite sailing. Fishing boats were banned as well from venturing into the waters off Hurghada.

Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities said in its statement that a committee had been formed to “examine the circumstances of the attacks” and any scientific reasons behind them.

“Local authorities stopped all activities within the vicinity of the incident for three days to allow for data to be collected according to the protocols used globally to investigate shark attacks,” it added.

Shark attacks have been rare in the Red Sea coastal region, which is a popular travel destination among European tourists.

However, in 2020, a Ukrainian boy lost his arm and an Egyptian tour guide lost a leg in a shark attack. Earlier in 2018, a Czech tourist was killed by a shark, while a German tourist died in a similar attack in 2015.

In 2010, a spate of shark attacks killed one European tourist and maimed several others off Sharm el-Sheikh.