CAIRO and LONDON — Two women were killed in shark attacks in Egypt’s Red Sea over the weekend, prompting officials to cordon off a stretch of coast.
Egypt’s Environment Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that the women were attacked by a shark while swimming in the Red Sea near the resort of Hurghada. The governor of the wider Red Sea governorate, Maj. Gen. Amr Hanafi, has ordered a halt to all water activities near the deadly attacks, according to the ministry.
The ministry said a committee of specialists had been formed to investigate the circumstances of the incidents and any scientific reasons behind them. The group “is still completing its work to find out the exact reasons for the behavior of the shark that attacked the two victims,” according to the ministry.
It was unclear whether the same shark was involved in both attacks.
“The Ministry of Environment regrets the accident and offers its heartfelt condolences to the families of the two victims and expresses its sincere gratitude and appreciation to all parties involved for their support,” the ministry added.
The ministry did not disclose the identities of the two women; However, The Associated Press reported that one was a 68-year-old Austrian and the other was a Romanian tourist.
A spokesman for Austria’s foreign ministry confirmed to ABC News on Monday that an Austrian national from the western state of Tyrol had died in Egypt. According to the spokesman, the Austrian embassy in Cairo is in contact with the victim’s relatives and with the Egyptian authorities, who did not want to provide any further information for “data protection and confidentiality reasons”.
A Romanian Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed to ABC News on Monday that a Romanian woman vacationing in Hurghada had died after a shark attack. The Romanian embassy in Cairo is in contact with the Egyptian authorities and is working with the Romanian authorities to identify the victims’ relatives, according to the spokesman, who said they “cannot offer any additional or specific details about the victim”.
Shark attacks in Egypt’s Red Sea coastal region have been relatively rare in recent years. In 2020, a 12-year-old Ukrainian boy lost an arm and an Egyptian tour guide lost a leg in a shark attack while snorkeling off the coast of Sharm El-Sheikh, another Red Sea resort town.