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Great Barrier Reef shark attack: Girl, 12, fighting for life after becoming second victim on beach in 24 hours


A 12-year-old girl is fighting for her life after a shark attack off the Australian coast – just 24 hours after a woman was mauled in the same stretch of water.

Witnesses have described the latest bloody incident, close to the Great Barrier Reef, as “horrific”, with the child suffering serious injuries.

Ambulance operations manager Tracey Eastwick said: “The patient’s injuries today are again a shark attack bite to the patient’s thigh area, with significant blood loss.

“It is horrific … it is quite confronting to have two similar incidents in the space of 24 hours.”

The child, who has not been identified, was hurt on Thursday in The Whitsundays, which is on the Queensland coast.

Two shark attacks happened at the tourist hotspot in the space of 24 hours

Less than 24 hours earlier another terrifying attack happened in the same stretch of water, close to picturesque beaches popular with tourists.

Dramatic pictures shows the woman, 46-year-old Justine Barwick, being rescued.

Photographer Sandi White, 45, was just metres away from the rescue that took place at Cid Harbour on Wednesday.

That attack came a day before a second person was attacked in the same stretch of water, the second victim, believed to be a 12-year-old child.

Mum-of-three Sandi, from Brisbane, said she could hear a woman who was on the boat with the victim crying as the rescued unfolded.

Two dramatic rescues were carried out in two days

Sandi said: “It was so frightening. We were all swimming around Cid Harbour yesterday morning, just hours before the shark attack happened.

“Around 5pm we heard on the (marine) radio that there had been a shark attack and for everyone to get out of the water.

“It was terrifying. We went out on our dingy to see what was happening.

“By that stage there was already a helicopter hovering around. I heard one woman on board who was extremely distressed.

“She was standing on the top deck of their yacht and talking to the paramedics in the helicopter.

“She was frantically telling everyone not to move her [the victim].

“They had a boat on standby ready to evacuate the woman to Hamilton Island if necessary, but luckily a doctor was on board.

The attacks have sparked alarm in the tourist hotspot

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“He was able to get to her and after quite some time he managed to control the bleeding.

“The helicopter did a few laps and he dropped one rescuer down to help with the recovery. Eventually they got her up into the helicopter and airlifted her away. Everyone who watched it on the harbour was really shaken up.

“It was very dramatic, and the mood was really sombre at Cid Harbour. To think I was swimming in the same water just hours before with my three boys. The whole thing was really frightening.”

Ms. Barwick is currently in a critical condition in Mackay hospital, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Earlier in the day details emerged of the attack with Rescue crewman Ben McCauley praising those who gave first aid, in an interview with Australia’s ABC.

Witnesses have described the situation as ‘frightening’

RACQ CQ Rescue crewman Ben McCauley told the ABC: “The shark had taken a huge chunk out of her inside leg and she was bleeding out.

“The original first aid was actually really well done.

“We actually didn’t have to do anything with the leg, it was pretty much tourniqueted up, bandaged up and bleeding had stopped. They’d done a really good job.”

Australia ranked behind only the United States in the number of unprovoked shark encounters with humans in 2017, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.

The island where the girl was bitten is a popular tourist site 900 km (560 miles) northwest of the state capital Brisbane.

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