British tourist 'eaten by shark' while swimming off Reunion island
7 November 2019, 08:14 | Updated: 7 November 2019, 09:20
A missing British tourist is believed to have been eaten by a shark after a human forearm and a hand still bearing his wedding ring was found inside the creature's stomach.
The suspected attack victim has not been named but is believed to be a 44-year old British national from Scotland who was on holiday on the island with his wife.
A source said: "The tourist and his wife were spending a week on the island and he had gone out snorkelling in the Hermitage Lagoon, off Saint-Gilles, alone on Saturday.
"When he did not get back, his wife sounded the alarm, and a full search was launched, involving boats and a helicopter.
"Divers searched around a coral reef in the area, and there were also patrols on land involving sniffer dogs. Sadly, the man could not be found."
Earlier this week a Tiger shark was killed on the island as it was considered a threat to holidaymakers. An autopsy was then carried out on the shark, as well as four other fish.
A severed hand that was still wearing the British tourist's wedding ring on its finger was found inside the shark's body.
The tourist, who is said to have been a strong swimmer, had been missing since Saturday. The hand with his wedding ring was found inside the shark on Wednesday evening.
The victim's wife is understood to have identified the hand through the wedding ring and DNA tests are being carried out to identify the other remains.
A spokesperson from the UK Foreign Office said: "We are providing support to the family of a British man who died whilst snorkelling in La Réunion and are in contact with local authorities."
Shark attacks around the Reunion island are common. The island is a French territory, located in Southern Africa in the Indian Ocean, between the islands of Madagascar and Mauritius.
Swimming and water activities are heavily restricted on the Reunion island, due to the danger posed by sharks.
The shark that is believed to have killed the tourist is a 10ft long Tiger shark. Found in tropical and temperature waters, its species is second only to the great white in recorded fatal attacks on humans.
On a visit to Reunion last month, French president Emmanuel Macron said his government was doing its utmost to manage the island's shark crisis.
'I know all about the trauma and tragedy that has taken place,' said Mr Macron said.
The incident comes after a British man had his foot bitten off in a shark attack on a snorkelling tour in Australia.