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Woman, 39, killed by Great White shark 50ft off shore after going for early morning dip

'I just heard lots of screaming and saw people running out of the water,' said a witness
(Representational image, Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
(Representational image, Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

PLETTENBERG BAY, SOUTH AFRICA: Beaches were closed early on Sunday morning, September 25, after a Great White shark attacked and killed a 39-year-old woman. This is the second fatal shark attack at the coastal town in three months after a swimmer, named as Bruce Wolov, was killed by a shark at Sanctuary Beach in Plettenberg Bay on June 28.

National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesperson Craig Lambinon confirmed they responded to the incident at 7.53 am on September 25. NSRI and South Africa Police Service (SAPS) units discovered the woman's body around 50 feet from the shore, according to The Sun. Sharing the details, Lambinon said, “The sea rescue craft Eric Stratford was launched. On arrival at the scene, the body of a believed to be 39-year-old female from Cape Town was recovered from the water and brought to the beach." The Forensic Pathology Service and the SAPS have opened an inquest. And the public has been urged to be careful along the Plettenberg Bay and Southern Cape coastline, as per the report.


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As per The Sun, an eyewitness narrated the incident to rescuers. The individual said, "It was a bit cloudy but there was some sun out and there were quite a few people taking an early dip as the temperature was quite warm. Then I just heard lots of screaming and saw people running out of the water. I guessed it was a shark attack but I was quite a way away and then the lifeboat turned up." Adding to this, the witness said, "I then heard a woman had been attacked while swimming only two or three waves out so it was quite shallow but it was said nothing could be done to help her."

Following the incident, Bitou Municipality Mayor David Swart said, "We have never had a fatality at Plettenberg until 2011 and now we have had three with two in the last three months. We are researching into and looking at putting up a shark barrier and increased warning signage and starting our lifeguard’s season a month earlier than usual." He added, "There seems to be no change in the shark’s behaviour in this area so it is a bit of a mystery why we have had three fatal attacks in such a short space of time."

In the last 25 years 37 people have been killed in shark attacks off South Africa, the report suggests. A South African shark expert, who wanted to stay anonymous, said, "You have to remember the ocean has always been the territory of the shark – they rule. There are more and more people in the water these days what with surfing and paddle boarding and swimming and the sharks are always never very far away. But they are not seeking out humans and attacks are rare and usually not intended as they mistake humans for prey but the results are often fatal. You have 47 times more chance of being killed by lightning or 11 times more chance of being killed by fireworks than being killed by a shark."