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Manialtepec Lagoon in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. Manialtepec Lagoon in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. @TeInvitoaOaxaca

Victims of crocodile attack are recovering but process will be a long one

One sister discharged from hospital and her twin has emerged from an induced coma

A British woman has been discharged from hospital and her sister is in stable condition after the two survived a crocodile attack in Oaxaca June 6.

A tour of Manialtepec Lagoon in Puerto Escondido turned into a nightmare for twin sisters Melissa and Georgia Laurie, who had  joined a group of friends for a boat tour of the pristine lagoon, a place teeming with birds and other fauna.

But unknown to the sisters, many crocodiles also make their home there among the mangroves, and it was hatching season.

“I actually said to the guide, ‘This looks like a place where crocodiles make their home,'” Georgia Laurie told BBC news.

But she said the tour guide — a German national who apparently has since fled — told the tourists it was safe to swim, correcting information given in previous reports, which also said the women were on a night tour to see the lagoon’s famous bioluminescence. In fact, it was early afternoon when the incident occurred.

As they enjoyed a dip, Melissa was suddenly pulled underwater by a crocodile. It attacked three times, puncturing Melissa’s leg and stomach before Georgia sprang into action, punching the animal in the nose until it left. A local conservationist said the animal was most likely a mother defending her brood.

Local ornithologist and boatman Lalo Escamilla heard cries for help and waded into the shallows to help the women.

In an interview, he expressed concern that the irresponsible actions of unlicensed guides could hurt the business of legitimate guides like himself. He said some foreigners in Puerto Escondido give cheap boat tours and undercut the local guides.

“They’re not guides … They’re not federally-approved experts, they don’t know this place. That’s the problem,” he said.

Melissa was taken to the hospital with deep cuts, lacerations, a broken wrist and water in her lungs. She later developed sepsis from a ruptured intestine and was put into an induced coma. Georgia also required treatment for her hand, which was slashed in the struggle.

Now Georgia has been discharged and Melissa has emerged from the coma. But her injuries are serious and Georgia still struggles to sleep as images of the attack crowd her mind. For both sisters, the recovery process will take time.

With reports from BBC News

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