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12-year-old boy loses arm, tour guide loses leg in rare shark attack in Egypt

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A young Ukrainian tourist lost an arm and an Egyptian tour guide a leg in a rare shark attack over the weekend off Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, officials said Tuesday. The attack took place Sunday when two tourists - a mother and her son - and their tour guide were snorkeling in Ras Mohammed national park, the Environment Ministry said in a statement.

The injured were taken to a nearby hospital and an initial investigation showed that the attack involved a 2-meter long Oceanic Whitetip shark, the ministry said.  A video on social media taken by a safari submarine in the area showed a female shark behaving "hostile towards humans," which is likely the fish that attacked the group, the ministry added.

The ministry did not release details of the injuries, but a statement by Ukraine's State Agency for the Development of Tourism said Monday the 12-year-old boy was in intensive care, and that surgery had failed to save his arm.

An Egyptian health official said that the family's guide had lost a leg, and the mother suffered light injuries. The health official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

Officials have closed the area of Ras Mohammed National Park where the attack took place.

Shark attacks have been rare in the Red Sea coastal region of Egypt in recent years. But in 2010, a spate of shark attacks killed one European tourist and maimed several others off Sharm el-Sheikh.

A tourist couple walks in the shallow waters at a closed beach in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010. Egypt kept most of the 30-mile coastline closed to swimmers after a spate of shark attacks. Nasser Nasser/AP

Sharm el-Sheikh resort at the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula is one of Egypt's major tourist destinations, that offers European tourists a warm and quick escape from frigid winter temperatures on the continent.

Divers are drawn by the steep drop-offs of coral reefs just offshore that offer a rich and colorful sea life.

Authorities have in recent years sought to revive the vital tourism sector battered by years of instability and, more recently, the coronavirus pandemic.

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