Shark bites two British men on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – A shark bit off a British tourist’s foot and mauled another’s leg yesterday as the men snorkelled on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, officials said.

The men had been on a snorkelling tour in the Whitsunday Islands when they were attacked, tour organiser ZigZag Whitsundays said.

Officials did not immediately release the men’s names but said they were 22 and 28 years old.

The shark severed one man’s right foot and then circled back and mauled the other’s right calf, Queensland state Ambulance Service spokeswoman Tracey Eastwick reported.

They were brought 11 kilometres by boat to the mainland town of Airlie Beach where paramedics were waiting for them, an ambulance official said.

They were then flown by helicopter to a hospital in the city of Mackay in serious but stable condition, RACQ CQ Rescue said. “An English tourist has had his foot bitten off and another has serious lacerations to his lower leg after a shark attack in the Whitsundays today,” the helicopter rescue service said in a statement.

The victims told the helicopter crew “they were wrestling and thrashing about in the water” in a passage between Hayman and Whitsunday Islands when they were attacked, the statement said.

A helicopter and ambulances used in the rescue of two tourists attacked by a shark are parked on a sporting ground, near Airlie Beach, Australia. PHOTO: AP