Egypt to reopen beaches after deadly shark attack

Mon Dec 13, 2010 5:19am GMT
 

ISMAILIA, Egypt (Reuters) - Egypt said on Sunday it was reopening its shores to tourists at a popular Red Sea resort after a series of shark attacks over the last two weeks, which killed one person and injured four.

Three Russians and a Ukrainian suffered severe injuries when they were attacked off Sharm el-Sheikh, and on December 5 a 70-year-old woman snorkeller died after a shark tore a piece out of her thigh and severed her forearm.

"We have allowed the beaches to reopen on condition hotel owners adhere to new controls to ensure the safety of foreign tourists while diving or swimming," South Sinai Governor Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha told reporters.

The controls include continuous sea patrols by boat and the establishment of watchtowers along the shoreline from which professional divers equipped with binoculars can monitor against any shark attacks.

Tourists will be required to remain within designated swimming areas and refrain from feeding sharks, Shousha said.

The killing was the first death from a shark attack in Egypt since 2004. Officials had just lifted a ban on swimming in the area imposed after the first attacks.

A whitetip seen minutes before the first attacks on two of the Russians was later identified as the shark photographed when the German woman was attacked five days later, Elke Bojanowski, an expert on the Red Sea's whitetip sharks, said on Thursday.

An international team of scientists was interviewing witnesses, studying the environment and gathering data from local divers to understand the shark's behaviour.

Speculation has centred on the practice of luring sharks with bait, or chum, to film them, causing them to associate humans with food, or a depletion of fish stocks that could force them to seek alternative food sources.

Sousha said the shark attacks were likely provoked by a ship that threw dead sheep overboard while passing through the Red Sea, whetting the sharks' appetites.

<p>People visit a popular beach in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, 220km (137 miles) northwest of Cairo, July 17, 2010. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih</p>
 
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