Travel companies cancel water sports after shark attack
British holiday companies today cancelled all water sports and boat trips in an Egyptian resort following shark attacks that have left several people seriously injured and one woman dead.
Thomson and First Choice also advised its holidaymakers to stay out of the water in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The action comes after a warning by the Foreign Office (FO) for holidaymakers to be on their guard at the resort - one of the most popular winter sun destinations for Britons.
An elderly German tourist died after she was attacked by an oceanic white tip shark in Sharm el-Sheikh a few days after three Russians and a Ukrainian tourist were badly mauled in similar attacks.
Today Thomson and First Choice said: "We are advising all our customers in Sharm el-Sheikh that diving and watersport activities are suspended.
"Our teams in the resort are advising all customers to refrain from going into the sea. We are also cancelling all water-based excursions in the Sharm el-Sheikh area until further notice. We are continuing to monitor the situation and will update customers accordingly."
On its website the Foreign Office said: "Attacks by oceanic white tip sharks are extremely rare and shark attacks of any kind are very unusual in the Red Sea.
"If you are considering diving or snorkelling in any of the Red Sea resorts be aware that safety standards of diving operators can vary considerably.
"A basic rule is never to dive or snorkel unaccompanied. Where possible make any bookings through your tour representative.
"Unusually cheap operators may not provide adequate safety and insurance standards."
On Thursday the Egyptian Environment Ministry said two sharks suspected of the attacks were caught.
A British tourist described witnessing one of the shark attacks at first hand.
Ellen Barnes, 31, of Horsham, West Sussex, told The Sun newspaper: "The water was churning like I was in a washing machine. I was being thrown around in the blood.
"The shark was thrashing and tearing at this poor woman and I could barely keep my head above the water it was so choppy."
The oceanic white tip shark is listed as vulnerable, with the species declining rapidly due to overfishing.
Egyptian Tourism Minister Zuhair Garana said shallow waters were "100% secure" at the resort.
He added that swimming in deep water was being prevented but that diving would carry on as "we are advised that sharks will not attack divers".
Speaking on Sky News, Mr Garana said: "We are not allowing people to swim in deep water and we are flying in a marine biologist from Florida to identify exactly what kind of shark we are dealing with.
"We have had attacks before but we have never had this number of attacks over just a few days."
He went on: "Diving is being allowed. We are advised that sharks will not attack divers. One of the main reasons for people coming here is to dive and to see sharks - not be attacked by one of them.
"I cannot say that deep waters are completely secure but shallow waters are 100% secure."
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