Tourist loses foot in Whitsundays shark attack

A shark has attacked two British backpackers in far north Queensland, biting off one man's foot before circling back and inflicting severe lacerations to the calf of the second man.

The men were snorkelling off Airlie Beach in Queensland's renowned Whitsunday Islands when they were attacked in Hook Passage about 10.20am on Tuesday.

They had been on a ZigZag Whitsundays boat tour when paramedics say the shark first attacked one man before returning to bite the second man at the popular spot 11km from Cid Harbour.

The two men have been identified by the Courier-Mail as Alistair Raddon (28), who lost his foot, and Danny Maggs (22).

There were 20 people on the tour, but it is not known how many were in the water when the shark attacked.

The pair were pulled back on board where two German paramedics administered first aid, tying tourniquets to stem the bleeding.

The pair were later flown to Mackay Base Hospital, about 950km north of the state capital, Brisbane, in a serious but stable condition, the state rescue service known as RACQ CQ Rescue tweeted.

The men told the rescue crew they were wrestling and thrashing about in the water when the attack occurred, Reuters reports.

Paramedic Steve Thurtell told the Brisbane Times the pair were in "good spirits" when they were brought to shore.

"Fortunately, not only were the staff on board trained in first aid, there were two international paramedics on board the vessel at the time who were able to render immediate and substantial first aid," Mr Thurtell said.

The attack has received wide coverage in the British press with The Sun reporting the attack as a "shark rampage" while the Daily Express reported a "terrifying shark launches a brutal attack".

The Whitsundays region has been the site of five other shark attacks since September last year.

The attack has revived debate about how to protect people from sharks in their habitat.

Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan says governments at all levels are failing to protect locals and tourists.

"We are going to have more and more of this happening until governments put public safety as their number one priority," he told AAP.

He wants Queensland's controversial shark control program, which has drum lines along parts of the coast, beefed up and extended.

Neither Hook Passage nor Airlie Beach have ever been part of the shark control program.

Drum lines were removed from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park earlier this year after the Humane Society successfully challenged the programme in that federally controlled area.

 

 

 

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