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Two European tourists killed in Red Sea shark attacks off Egyptian coast

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
People enjoy the beach in Egypt in 2015
People enjoy the beach in Egypt in 2015   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

A Romanian and an Austrian have been killed in shark attacks within three days off the Red Sea coast of Egypt.

Romania’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that a female tourist from the country was killed while vacationing on Sunday.

A 68-year-old Austrian woman died on Friday in another attack while swimming near the resort town of Hurghada.

It is still unclear whether the attacks were caused by the same shark.

On Saturday, Egyptian authorities closed off a stretch of the country’s Red Sea coastline after the first death. Water activities -- including diving, snorkelling, windsurfing and kite sailing -- were banned, while fishing boats were prohibited from the area.

"Two women were attacked by a shark while swimming in the Sahel Hachich area, south of Hurghada," Egypt's environment ministry said on Sunday, adding that an investigation had been launched.

The ministry announced a task force is working on identifying "the scientific causes" and "the reasons behind the shark's behaviour" that led to the incidents.

Although sharks are common in the Red Sea, attacks on tourists swimming in authorised areas are rare.

In 2020, a young Ukrainian boy and an Egyptian tour guide were both seriously injured in a shark attack. A tourist from the Czech Republic died off the Egyptian coast in 2018, three years after a German national was also killed in the Red Sea.

In 2010, a spate of shark attacks killed one German 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 due to the rich and colourful local sea life.