Scotland

Scots tourist's hand and wedding ring found inside shark

Tiger shark Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Examiners found the man's hand and wedding ring inside a tiger shark

A Scottish tourist is suspected to have died in a shark attack after his severed hand and wedding ring were found inside the animal.

The 44-year-old man was last seen snorkelling off the French island of Reunion, near Madagascar, over the weekend.

It is believed he was on a week-long holiday with his wife in Saint-Gilles.

His hand, identified by his wedding ring, was found inside a tiger shark which was caught for research purposes.

Local resident Erick Quelquejeu told BBC Scotland the man had left his wife for just "a few minutes" to go for a swim.

Image caption Mr Quelquejeu told BBC Scotland the beaches have signs warning people against swimming

Mr Quelquejeu said: "It's an area enclosed by a reef, there's a very slight passage where it goes deeper into the ocean but actually it's really well protected by the reef."

He added: "His wife was really scared by what happened. Many helicopters, many planes, swimmers and boats went to try and find the guy in the ocean but couldn't find him for a few days.

"Apparently they found a shark a few days ago with his hand so we are really not sure how it happened."

Mr Quelquejeu said that many beaches on the west coast of the island were well signposted, warning people against swimming because of previous shark attacks. There were also warnings at the airports.

Image caption The island has put measures in place to protect people from shark attacks

"There are a lot of shark attacks on Reunion island but we are quite aware about that now," he added.

"It's something we don't hide from anybody. All the places around the island where you can't swim - where there's not a natural reef - there are signs in front of the beach to warn people.

"Even at that you have a few boats that go around the west area of the island - because that's where all the beaches are - to protect them, to watch if anyone makes that mistake anyway."

The shark was among several caught on Monday and Tuesday in the Indian Ocean by the Centre de Securite Requin (CSR).

It was found just over four miles (7km) from the lagoon where the man was last seen. The shark was examined on Wednesday morning.

It is not yet known whether the man drowned and was subsequently eaten by the shark, or whether he was attacked by it.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We are providing support to the family of a British man who died while snorkelling in La Reunion and are in contact with the local authorities."

There have been two fatal shark attacks this year at Reunion, which is in the Indian Ocean.

Local authorities have implemented a ban on swimming and water sports across almost all of the island's beaches following attacks in 2013.

French President Emmanuel Macron said last month that he would like to see water sports reintroduced by 2022, but added that he wanted "to be sure" that it would be safe to do so.