Egypt closes coastal area after shark kills Austrian swimmer
CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities on Saturday closed off a stretch of the country’s Red Sea coastline, a day after a shark attack killed an Austrian woman swimming near the resort of Hurghada.
The 68-year-old woman, who lost a leg and an arm in the shark attack, died shortly after she was brought 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 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 off the area for three days, banning all “sea activities,” including diving, snorkeling, wind surfing and kite sailing. Fishing boats were also banned from the waters off Hurghada. The governor ordered the closure.
A video circulated online purported to show the attack on the woman by a Mako shark relatively close to the shore, seen from a nearby pier. In the video, the water around the woman turns red from blood as bystanders on the pier throw a flotation device toward her. It remained unclear how she was able to get to 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 spate of shark attacks killed one 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 some of the country’s major beach destinations and are popular with European tourists. Divers are drawn by the steep drop-offs of coral reefs just offshore that offer a rich and colorful sea life.
Authorities have in recent years sought to revive the vital tourism sector, battered by years of instability and, more recently, the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine.