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Norfolk couple tell of Sharm shark holiday nightmare

PUBLISHED: 16:17 09 December 2010

Ben Clarke and Kaye Armes on the beach at Sharm el-Sheikh

Ben Clarke and Kaye Armes on the beach at Sharm el-Sheikh

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A former Thorpe St Andrew High School pupil today told how a dream holiday to Egypt was ruined by the shark attacks, which killed one and injured at least three others.

Ben Clarke, 23, and his girlfirend Kaye Armes, 24, jetted out to the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh last week for a diving holiday in what is one of the most popular spots for divers and snorkellers in the world.

But the dream soon turned into a nightmare for the couple, who live at Clippesby, near Great Yarmouth, after they were stopped from booking a diving excursion because of shark attacks on three tourists, including a Russian who had his arm ripped off.

Mr Clarke, a park ranger at Clippesby Hall Holiday Park, said they were told the sea would be closed for at least 48 hours after the attacks.

After being told two sharks, a mako and a smaller white tip, were later caught, the authorities reopened the sea and the couple, who are staying at the Grand Azure Tropicana Hotel on Nabq Bay, took to the waters to do some snorkelling.

Mr Clarke said: “We thought the shark had been caught and there were lots of people swimming.

“It was always on our minds while swimming that a shark could just come from the deep, but after the president of Egypt gave the all clear, we thought we would be safe.”

After last week’s attacks – in which three Russians and a Ukrainian were injured – the environment ministry caught and killed two sharks.

But after returning later in the day to book a dive with one of the instructors the couple, who have been together for two-and-a-half years, were told that the resort’s beaches have been closed again for watersports because of another attack.

Mr Clarke said: “He notified us that the sea was closed again because a German lady had been killed three hotels down the beach from where we were snorkelling earlier and she was only 20 metres from the beach. It was scary to think that we went snorkelling off our jetty, which is well over 300 metres from the beach.”

The 70-year-old German woman, who has not been named, was killed in front of horrified swimmers on Sunday after being bitten on the thigh and arm in the shallows of a supposedly safe, netted-off area.

Mr Clarke said: “The beach is still fairly busy, but people just aren’t going in the water apart from up to their knees. While on the beach you can hear lots of whistles if tourists are going a bit far.

“As far as we are concerned we will still return to Egypt.

“The shark has been around for thousands of years and we are invading it’s space. I feel sorry for the shark attack victims and their families, but the shark is only doing what it does.”

Have you had a holiday horror? Call Evening News reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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