Friday, June 14, 2024

Tourist in Ixtapa dies after attack by marine animal

An incident at a beach in Ixtapa, Guerrero, resulted in the death of a 76-year-old Belgian man after he was attacked by either a shark or a crocodile.

The attack occurred Wednesday morning at Quieta Beach, a public venue that doubles as the swimming area for Club Med’s Ixtapa Pacific resort. The beach is located in Ixtapa’s second hotel zone, about 6½ km from central Ixtapa and 9 km from the neighboring tourist destination of Zihuatanejo.

The tourist who died had been staying at the Club Med Ixtapa Pacific resort. (Club Med)

The victim was named as Joseph Bynens, who reportedly had one of his legs bitten off and succumbed to his wounds after receiving on-site medical aid from the Mexican Red Cross.

Originally it was reported that Bynens was from Canada, but Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco Marqués said he was a Belgian national who was staying at Club Med.

According to several reports, the attack occurred at about 9:15 a.m., just minutes after Valerie Haurowitz, 52, from Los Angeles, California, was similarly attacked. She was reportedly in stable condition on Thursday.

Authorities haven’t been able to confirm whether the attacks were by a shark or crocodile. Using drones and other methods, Civil Protection workers and the Navy tried to locate the culprit.

The vicinity of Quieta Beach includes a crocodile farm, prompting reinforced security measures.

Tourists were previously alerted to a crocodile’s presence at Palmar Beach in central Ixtapa, and visitors to nearby La Ropa Beach recently reported seeing either a crocodile (but maybe a shark) in Zihuatanejo Bay.

Shark attacks are nothing new in the area, having been reported on several beaches in the Costa Grande region along Guerrero’s Pacific Coast. In 2019, an American tourist was the victim of an attack in Troncones, just north of Zihuatanejo, and in 2008, a series of attacks in the region claimed the lives of one tourist and one local.

Marine biologists suspect it’s highly probable that Bynens was attacked by a crocodile, said Zihuatanejo Mayor Jorge Sánchez Alec. Sánchez added that a bacteriological analysis of the bites will allow a more comprehensive conclusion to be reported on Friday.

The attacks come 10 days after a 26-year-old woman died after a shark attack in Melaque, Jalisco. 

Quieta Beach was closed after Wednesday’s tragedy. Purple flags were placed to indicate the presence of dangerous marine fauna.

“The safety of beachgoers is our utmost priority,” Torruco said. The minister added that the beach will remain “closed until we have reports on the area.”

With reports from Milenio, Infobae, Quadratin and EFE

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