Woman has 'both hands ripped off' in shark attack in the Pacific islands

A 35-year-old woman has been attacked by a shark while on a whale-watching trip in the Pacific islands of Polynesia.

The French tourist was with an experienced guide observing pilot whales off the island of Moorea when an oceanic whitetip reef shark attacked.

It’s been reported that the woman’s family, including her 6-year-old son, watched on in horror as the shark bit into the woman’s arms and torso.

The female tourist was conscious as she was rushed to a nearby hotel where fortunately two nurses and a firefighter were able to provide medical care while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Public beach in the north of Moorea island, French Polynesia.
The woman’s family reportedly watched on in horror as the shark bit into the woman’s arms and torso. Source: Getty

“Fortunately for her, there were two nurses on site and they were able to give her first aid,” firefighter Jean-Jacques Riveta said.

Local media The Parisian reports that the woman was taken to the Moorea hospital before being evacuated by helicopter to the emergency room of the Taaone Hospital Centre in Tahiti.

“She had lost a lot of blood, she had both hands cut off from her forearms, and her left breast was torn off," Mr Riveta said.

A witness provided a graphic description of the injured woman to local media Radio 1.

"I saw this woman who had no more arms, the other on the left side was just hanging,” the witness said.

“It was a big panic for everyone,” they recalled, adding that the woman’s ribs were visible.

According to the outlet, the woman was heard asking "but why did you take me there if it was not safe?” when she was brought to shore.

Oceanic Whitetip Shark in the waters of Polynesia
It's believed a whitetip shark (similar to the on pictured) attacked the woman. Source: Getty stock

The Parisian reported that the president of the Shark Protection Association and guide for whale watching tours in Moorea said shark sightings in Polynesia are common but attacks are rare.

"The parata (reef sharks) follow the pilots of pilot whales because they eat their excrement, so when we see pilot whales we know that there are probably parata not far," Mr Seybald said.

He also said experienced guides should know how to “redirect” the sharks if they come too close to tourists.

The woman is reported to be in a serious but stable condition.

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