Egypt closes coastal area after shark kills Austrian swimmer

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CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities shut down part of the country’s Red Sea coast on Saturday, a day after a shark attack killed an Austrian woman swimming near the resort town of Hurghada.

The 68-year-old woman, who lost a leg and arm in the shark attack, died shortly after being taken to the private Nile Hospital in Hurghada, an Egyptian health official said.

She was barely alive when she was brought in on Friday, the official said, adding that attempts by medical staff to resuscitate her had failed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

According to an internal document from the office of the governor of the Red Sea province, shared with The Associated Press, authorities were to close the area for three days, prohibiting all “sea activities”, including diving, scuba diving apnea, windsurfing and kite flying. sail. Fishing boats have also been barred from the waters off Hurghada. The governor ordered the closure.

A video released online claimed to show the woman being attacked by a Mako shark relatively close to shore, seen from a nearby pier. In the video, the water around the woman turns red with blood as bystanders on the pier throw a flotation device at her. We still do not know how she was able to reach the shore.

Shark attacks have been relatively rare in Egypt’s Red Sea coastal region in recent years. In 2020, a young Ukrainian boy lost an arm and an Egyptian tour guide a leg in a shark attack. In 2010, a series of shark attacks killed a European tourist and maimed several others off Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula, across the Red Sea from Hurghada.

Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, including Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh, are among the country’s top beach destinations and are popular with European tourists. Divers are drawn to the steep drop-offs of the coral reefs just offshore which provide rich and colorful marine life.

Authorities have sought in recent years to revive the vital tourism sector, battered by years of instability and, more recently, the coronavirus pandemic and war in Ukraine.

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