Sharks attack two people off Russia's Pacific coast

MOSCOW Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:20pm EDT

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Two people have survived rare shark attacks while swimming in waters off Russia's Pacific coast, the emergency ministry and media said on Thursday.

The attacks occurred roughly in the same area within 24 hours of each other. Some experts said the appearance of sharks in these waters might be linked to climate change.

In one case, a teenager was attacked while swimming near the Zheltukhina island some 6,500 km (4,000 miles) east of Moscow.

"The second shark attack on a human was registered...in the waters of the Sea of Japan," the local Emergency Ministry said in a statement posted on its website www.mchspk.ru.

Separately, Kommersant newspaper said a 25-year old man had both of his arms bitten off by a shark on Wednesday while swimming near Vityaz village, some 230 km (142 miles) south of the regional capital Vladivostok.

The site of the Zheltukhina island attack was some 60 kilometers (37 miles) north-east of the Vityaz incident.

Shark attacks are extremely rare in Russia which does not use nets keep the predators off its beaches. A wildlife expert told Kommersant FM radio on Thursday that the sharks might have migrated from the tropics.

"It came here with warm currents from the southern seas," said World Wildlife Foundation expert Konstantin Zgurovsky. "It might have migrated there following fish stocks or squid."

Another expert, interviewed by Kommersant daily newspaper, said attacks might continue because waters off the Far Eastern coast have become warmer, attracting tropical sea creatures.

The Emergency Ministry banned swimming in certain areas off the shore in Russia's Far East region and deployed rescue boats to enforce the ban and avoid further casualties.

(Writing by Alexei Anishchuk; Editing by Maria Golovnina)

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