Thursday, 14 Nov 2019

First picture of British civil servant feared to have been killed by shark

A missing British tourist who is believed to have been killed by a tiger shark while snorkelling in a lagoon has been locally identified as Richard Martyn Turner.

The 44-year-old civil servant is said to have been swimming alone in Hermitage Lagoon, off the coast of Reunion Island while on holiday with his wife.

His wife, named locally as Verity Turner, reported her husband missing on Sunday, after he had disappeared while taking a dip the day before.

According to reports, the shallow warm waters are usually deemed safe but four sharks, measuring up to four feet, were later caught in the lagoon.

A man’s severed hand and forearm were found inside the stomach of one of them, according to The Sun, and Mrs Turner identified the wedding ring on a finger as belonging to her missing husband.

Mr Turner is yet to be officially named but it is understood the couple were celebrating Mrs Turner’s 40th birthday by staying at the five star Lux Hotel on St Gilles.

The married couple, who are from the north west of England but moved to Edinburgh 15 years ago, were said to be enjoying a week on the French island in the Indian Ocean.

A police source told the paper: ‘The sharks were caught because they were swimming way out of their natural habitat.

‘They were in the lagoon area which is shark-free because of the coral. But they somehow managed to find a way in…

‘The woman identified the ring as belonging to her husband but the DNA tests will officially confirm if it is the missing man’.

The other three sharks caught are set to have their stomachs examined in due course.

A post-mortem examination on the man has yet to take place, and it is not yet known whether he drowned and was subsequently eaten by the shark, or whether he was attacked by it.

A police helicopter was called in to search for the victim’s remains on Saturday but nothing was found.

Swimming and surfing has been banned in Reunion – a French overseas territory – since the summer of 2013. It is only permitted in the shallow waters of the island’s lagoons.

However the Hermitage lagoon is deemed safe by locals, due to its dense coral reef which usually keeps sharks out.

A legal source on Reunion told MailOnline: ‘The man undoubtedly thought he was safe. He went off to snorkel around the Hermitage coral reef, where the water is warm and very shallow.

‘It may be that waves pushed the man beyond the reef into open sea, or that the shark swam into the lagoon. What is now certain is that he is dead.’

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.’

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