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French honeymooner killed in shark attack

A French honeymooner was attacked and killed by a shark on Wednesday while he was surfing not far from the beach on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion, authorities said.

French honeymooner killed in shark attack
French gendarmes talk to the wife (C) of a 36 year-old French surfer attacked and killed by a shark. Photo: Richard Bouhet/AFP

The 36-year-old was in the sea off the popular beach of Brisants de Saint-Gilles when a shark charged at him twice, prompting a nearby swimmer to raise the alert when he saw blood on the water, the local prefecture said.

Lifeguards jumped in the water to fetch the victim, who had lost a lot of blood and was in cardiac and respiratory arrest. They brought him back to the beach but were unable to revive him.

The shark had bitten the surfer on the arm and on the thigh. His wife was on the beach when the attack happened, and is being treated for shock, authorities said.

The deadly shark attack was the first this year on the island, where three people were killed by sharks in the past two years.

Last summer, another surfer in the Reunion island was attacked by a shark that tore off his arm and leg, although he survived.

Sharks are not man-eaters, but sometimes mistake humans for their natural prey, like seals or tortoises, and at other times hurt surfers as they "mouth" them out of curiosity, experts say.

Last year, 78 shark attacks were reported around the world, of which eight were fatal.

The series of shark attacks in the Reunion island has seen a number of measures implemented. Local authorities have initiated several scientific studies to try and better understand the way of life of the animals.

People have also been deployed near beaches on boats or in the water to keep an eye on swimmers and surfers and spot sharks before they attack.

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TOURISM

Tourism minister: Book your French ski holiday now

France’s ski resorts will be open for business this winter, tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne has promised - but no decision has yet been taken on whether a health pass will be required to use ski lifts.

Skiers at a French Alpine resort
Photo: Philippe Desmazes / AFP

“This winter, it’s open, the resorts are open,” Lemoyne told France 2’s 4 Vérités programme.

“Compared to last year, we have the vaccine,” he said, adding that he would “invite those who have not yet done so to [book], because … there will soon be no more room.”

And he promised an answer ‘in the next few days’ to the question of whether health passes would be required for winter holidaymakers to use ski lifts. “Discussions are underway with the professionals,” he said.

The stakes are high: the closure of ski lifts last winter cost manufacturers and ski shops nearly a billion euros. 

This year ski lifts will remain open, but a health pass may be necessary to access them. The health pass is already compulsory for après ski activities such as visits to bars, cafés and restaurants.

COMPARE The Covid rules in place at ski resorts around Europe

Many town halls and communities which depend on winter sports have found it difficult or impossible to make ends meet.

“It’s time for the French mountains to revive,” Lemoyne said, pointing to the fact that the government has provided “more than €6 billion” in aid to the sector.

Winter tourism professionals, however, have said that they are struggling to recruit for the winter season.

“Restaurant and bars are very affected,” by the recruitment crisis, one expert told Franceinfo, blaming a lack of urgency from authorities towards the winter holiday industry.

“We are all asking ourselves what we should do tomorrow to find full employment in the resort,” the expert added.

Post-Brexit visa and work permit rules mean that ski businesses have found it difficult to recruit Brits for short-term, seasonal positions.

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