A British backpacker had his foot bitten off and another was seriously injured in a brutal shark attack while snorkelling near the Great Barrier Reef in eastern Australia.
Alistair Raddon, 28, from Southampton, had his right foot ‘amputated’ in the attack on Tuesday while 22-year-old Danny Maggs, from Plymouth, suffered severe lacerations to his right calf.
The attack happened at 10.17am while the pair were swimming in the ocean off Hook Island, part of Queensland’s Whitsunday Islands which is a popular spot for tourists.
Both men were rushed back to shore and driven to meet a rescue helicopter, which then airlifted to Mackay Hospital in serious but stable condition.
Alistair Raddon, 28, from Southampton, had his right foot ‘amputated’ when he was attacked by a shark while snorkelling near the Great Barrier Reef in eastern Australia
Mr Raddon (pictured being loaded into a helicopter with his injured right leg visible) was taking part in a snorkelling trip when he was attacked at 10.17am Tuesday
Danny Maggs, 22, from Plymouth, suffered severe lacerations to his right calf during the same attack, which happened while the two men were playing and ‘thrashing’ in the ocean
Mr Maggs and Mr Raddon were sailed back to shore and driven to meet a rescue helicopter, before being airlifted to hospital in serious condition
A spokesman for the Queensland ambulance service said the pair were in ‘good spirits’ and discussing the rugby world cup during the journey, but added ‘the impact of the attack is not lost on them’.
Witnesses said the pair, who were taking part in a ZigZag day cruise with around 20 others, were playing and thrashing in the ocean when the shark bit one of them, then returned to bite the other.
The men were saved by two international paramedics on board the tour boat, who gave them ‘immediate and substantial first aid’ by applying pressure to their wounds until the boat could to Abel Point Marina at Airlie Beach.
From there, ambulance crews continued to treat the backpackers before they were transported to the town of Proserpine, around 10 miles away, where they were picked up by a rescue helicopter.
The men were then airlifted to Mackay Base Hospital where they remain in a serious but stable condition.
It is not clear how many other people were in the water at the time of the attack, or what kind of shark bit the two men.
An official at Arlie Beach said the other tourists were given food and water on their return, and offered counselling.
The attack happened in Hook Passage, which is about 11km from Cid Harbour, where two women were attacked and one man was killed by a shark last year.
Danny Maggs has been travelling since at least 2017, according to social media posts which show he visited Vietnam and Bali before making his way to Australia
Alistair Raddon has also been travelling since 2017, and also visited Vietnam before coming to Australia. He was friends with Mr Maggs on Facebook, though it is not clear how long the pair have known each other for
The pair had been taking part in a ZigZag day tour departing from Arlie Beach, in Queesland, when they were attacked
The Britons were said to be ‘in good spirits’ while being taken to hospital, and were joking about the rugby world cup – but medics added ‘the impact of the attack is not lost on them’
It appears from social media posts that Alistair has been travelling since at least 2017, when he uploaded a photo from south east Asia to his Facebook profile.
He has been in Australia since at least March this year, when he posted a photo of Melbourne at sunset.
It appears Danny Maggs also began travelling in south east Asia in 2017, when he uploaded a series of photos from Vietnam.
By March the following year he had made his way to Bali, before ending up in Australia around eight months later.
It does not appear that the two men had been travelling extensively together, despite sharing similar itineraries, though they are listed as ‘friends’ on Facebook.
It is not clear for how long they knew each other before the fateful trip to the Whitsundays.
‘We are saddened to confirm that two of our guests were injured in a shark attack this morning,’ a spokesman for ZigZag tours said on Tuesday afternoon.
‘Our thoughts are with them, their families and the other guests on the tour.
‘We are working with authorities to assist in any way we can. We have suspended our tours for today and will work closely with authorities regarding our upcoming tours.’
Tourism Whitsunday CEO Tash Wheeler said she is now working to ensure the safety of the two men.
RACQ Rescue helicopter service said in a tweet that one of the men had his foot bitten off.
‘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.’
Pictured is the view from inside the helicopter cockpit as it comes it to land at Mackay Base Hospital, where the pair are in serious but stable condition
The pair were saved by two quick-thinking paramedics on board the ZigZag tour boat (file image) who applied pressure to the wounds while they were taken back to shore
The shocking attack comes 20 days after the removal of drum lines – traps which lure in and capture sharks with baited hooks – from the Great Barrier Reef following a Federal Court ruling.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she didn’t know if the attack happened in an area where the drumlines were taken out.
‘We don’t know exactly where it happened, but I’m told they’re being brought into Airlie Beach so I’m assuming it’s in the Whitsunday region,’ she said.
‘I’m not going to talk about the politics of drum lines today. My main concern today is for the welfare of these two people that have been injured by what appears to be a shark attack.
‘I don’t know if they were diving. I don’t know if it was off-shore. I don’t know if it was outside the marine park.’
A total of 27 beaches are now ‘at risk’ after the lines were removed.
The Whitsundays region has been the site of a number of shark attacks in the last year.
The Whitsundays region has been the site of a number of shark attacks in the last 12 months, including one fatal attack on Melbourne doctor Daniel Christidis
Victorian Daniel Christidis, 33, died last November after being attacked at Cid Harbour at Whitsunday Island during a trip with friends and colleagues.
That incident followed separate attacks within 24 hours in September – also at Cid Harbour – on Tasmanian woman Justine Barwick and Victorian 12-year-old Hannah Papps.
Earlier this year a man was bitten on the thigh in waters at Hardy Reef, about 50km northeast of Hamilton Island.
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.
Mr Costigan said the entire area should be protected by a beefed up shark control program.
The premier believes federal government should change laws to allow drum lines to go back into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
‘I will not shy away from my stance that the drum lines need to go back in,’ she told reporters.
A spokesman for Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said the area was not part of the controversial shark controlled program which was suspended earlier this year.
‘Airlie Beach has never been covered by the shark control program,’ he told AAP.
Recent shark attacks in the Whitsundays
September 19, 2018: Justine Barwick, 46, miraculously survived a horrific shark bite while swimming off a charter yacht in Cid Harbour in the Whitsundays.
A passing yacht found the Tasmanian woman with life-threatening bites to her right thigh, and helped her out of the water.
Justine Barwick, 46, survived a horrific shark bite while swimming off a charter yacht in Cid Harbour in the Whitsundays in September last year
September 20, 2018: Hannah Papps, 12, from Melbourne, lost her leg after being bitten by a shark near at Cid Harbour on the Whitsundays.
The young girl’s upper thigh had a large piece of flesh torn off by the shark at popular tourist spot Cid Harbour.
Hannah was airlifted to the Mackay Base Hospital from the beach by CQ CareFlight paramedics.
Hannah Papps, 12, lost her leg after being bitten by shark near at Cid Harbour on the Whitsundays just one day after Ms Barwick in the same area (pictured with Paralympic swimmer Ellie Cole)
November 7, 2018: Daniel Christidis, 33, was mauled to death by a shark at Cid Harbour at Whitsunday Island.
The up and coming doctor was taking part in a five-day sailing holiday around the Whitsunday islands when he was attacked about 5.30pm.
During the attack, the 33-year-old was bitten in the left thigh, right calf and left wrist, the latter of which was reportedly injured while fending off the predator.
There were more than a dozen yachts in the harbour at the time and some tourists managed to rescue Mr Christidis with their dinghy.
They brought him back to his own yacht, where most of the group had medical backgrounds, including two doctors, but they were unable to help him.
Daniel Christidis, 33, was mauled to death by a shark at Cid Harbour at Whitsunday Island