Attacks by what is believed to be a single oceanic whitetip shark have left several Red Sea snorkellers seriously injured.
From reports emanating from Egypt and international press, confusion surrounds how many people were hurt and how seriously in the incidents, near Sharm el Sheikh.
In a statement issued yesterday, Egypt’s Chamber of Diving and Watersports (CDWS) referred to “three Russian tourists” attacked “in the last 24 hours”.
The “three separate incidents” occurred in “an area north of Naama Bay”.
One of the injured, said the CDWS, was “reported to be in a critical condition”.
However, quoting Mohammed Salem, Director of Sinai Conservation, and health officials, a number of press reports have stated that the attacks numbered four, and that all the snorkellers were gravely injured.
The nationalities reported have varied from four Russians to three Russians and a Ukrainian.
Reports state that two snorkellers were attacked together on Tuesday and two more together yesterday, in the Ras Nasrani area near Sharm. Serious injuries have been listed, but details vary.
This morning, the Daily Mail’s online service referred to two of the snorkellers losing their arms, another suffering serious leg and back injuries, and the fourth serious leg injuries.
Yesterday’s online Washington Post, using Associated Press, cited two lost arms in the first attack and, in the second, one snorkeller with a lost leg and hand, and the other with a lost hand plus serious leg and back injuries.
According to Reuters online yesterday, the toll was lower, with injuries amounting to one lost hand and serious leg and back injuries.
The injured snorkellers were flown to hospital in Cairo where, according to the Daily Mail today, all were said to be in a critical condition.
Divernet is enquiring with the Egyptian authorities and will report further when a clear picture emerges of numbers and types of casualties.
The CDWS stated yesterday that “all diving and watersports activities are to be suspended in Sharm el Sheikh, with the exception of the Ras Mohammed National Park”, until the end of today.
It said that officials from the South Sinai National Park had “tracked down the shark in question”, an adult oceanic whitetip.
Attempts were being made to capture the shark “with the aim of releasing it back into the wild in a remote area in the Gulf of Suez”.
The CDWS added that it was “working together with officials and shark experts to determine the causes behind such unusual behaviour, including possible indications of illegal fishing or feeding in the area”.