Leaked documents reveal panic over shark attack

Ahram Online, Sunday 12 Dec 2010

An official letter circulating around Sharm El Sheikh hotels reveals official attempts to control the controversy surrounding the shark attacks

A series of letters leaked to Ahram Online reveal that officials in Sharm El Sheikh are panicking about the recent shark attacks.

The letters, sent by a source that chose to remain anonymous, include two with a series of instructions sent by the Egyptian Hotel Association to the general manager of a hotel in Sharm El Sheikh, concerning the shark attacks.

In the two letters sent on December 7, Adel Shokry, secretary general of the association's South Sinai branch tells the hotel manager that rumors about the shark attacks are being spread by hotel workers and instructs him to warn his staff not to make any statements to the media about the incidents. He also instructs the hotel to allow journalists to photograph tourists in their various activities on the beaches, but to prohibit the staff from making any statements to them about the shark dilemma. He asks the hotel to direct journalists to General Ahmed Saleh, the governor’s official spokesperson, for any questions.

In another letter sent on December 8, Shokry tells the hotel manager to find enclosed instructions by Abdel Fadeel Shosha, the governor of South Sinai, to ban swimming and snorkeling activities in all beaches from North Naema to Ras Nasrani until further notice. He also ordered the hotel to place monitors on the beach to look out for any sharks and to inform the South Sinai Protectorate operations room of any impending danger. The letter, which was signed by Shosha, insisted that all orders must be put to effect immediately. According to the letter, these instructions were sent out to all hotels in Sharm El Sheikh.

The attacks, which began on December 1, have left four tourists injured and one dead. The threat of shark attacks has hit Egyptian tourism hard, resulting in a 20% drop in Russian tourism in a matter of days.


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