Shark Attacks Leaves Boy, 12, Without Forearm, Three Others Injured

A 12-year-old boy on vacation in Egypt has lost his forearm in a shark attack, local officials said Tuesday.

The boy from Ukraine was snorkelling with his mother and an Egyptian tour guide in Ras Mohammed National Park at the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh when the incident occurred, the Associated Press reported.

The mother also sustained several wounds during the attack and the Egyptian tour guide also lost his leg.

The three individuals were treated at a nearby hospital, with an initial investigation revealing that the shark responsible was a six-foot-long oceanic whitetip, the Egyptian Environment Ministry said.

These sharks, which can grow up to around 11 feet long, are found throughout the world in tropical and sub-tropical waters, according to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries.

Ukraine's State Agency for the Development of Tourism released a statement on Monday saying: "The 12-year-old boy is still in intensive care after undergoing surgery, facing another one tomorrow. His mauled hand could not be saved. We wish the victims a speedy recovery and return to Ukraine."

The agency also said that they were in contact with the relatives of the victims.

"We encourage all tourists to be as careful as possible in the country of stay, to familiarize themselves with safety rules, to take extreme tours from licensed tour operators or their official local partners. Don't ignore your health and life!"

Officials have closed off the section of Ras Mohammed National Park where the attack occurred.

"The minister has decided to suspend all human activities in the vicinity of the attack in accordance to present global practice in shark attacks on humans," a statement from the Environment Ministry read.

The ministry said it had seen underwater footage of the shark responsible for the attack captured at the site of the incident. The shark was acting abnormally, displaying behavior that was "hostile towards humans," according to the ministry.

The Ras Mohammed National Park, which was established in 1983, is is one of the most famous diving spots in the world, featuring coral reef ecosystems and an abundance of marine species.

Shark attacks in Egypt's Red Sea coastal region are very rare. But there have been a handful of fatal incidents over the past decade.

In 2010, a German woman was killed in the area during a series of five shark attacks within a few days, Middle East Monitor reported. In 2016, another German tourist died after losing his leg during an attack in the waters off Al-Qusair. And in 2018, a Czech tourist was killed by a shark in Marsa Alam.

oceanic whitetip shark
Stock image: An oceanic whitetip shark. A 12-year-old boy lost his forearm in Egypt following an attack by an oceanic whitetip. iStock