Saturday, January 28, 2006

Giant Shark / Fübar Watch: Sharks don't brush their teeth

IOL: Shark victim's long wait
Mauled and bleeding after a shark attack on the Wild Coast, a Scottburgh man watched his emergency air ambulance circling vainly above Mthatha Airport for more than an hour, unable to rescue him because no one was around to switch on the runway landing lights.
Eventually, with the rescue aircraft running low on fuel, a doctor grabbed a fire extinguisher in desperation and smashed open an airport window to reach the landing lights' switch. The drama started just after 2pm on Wednesday, when diver Michael Vriese, 34, was attacked by a shark while spearfishing at Coffee Bay. Its teeth severed two arteries on his right arm, damaging muscles and nerves on his wrist and forearm.
"I forced my way into the control tower, but there was a huge Trellidor in the way and the only apparent entry point was through a window. So I phoned a senior SA Police director at 8pm, explained the situation and asked if I could break in.
"He told me to wait while he contacted the airport manager. I phoned again at 8.35pm and he urged me to wait a little longer. In the meantime, we were phoning the paramedics and pleading for them to circle for another 10 minutes.
"Finally, at 8.40pm, I took a fire extinguisher off the wall and smashed a window so the manager could get at the lights. The lights went off twice while the plane was coming in and it finally landed at 8.50pm.
"This whole chartered emergency mission was almost a complete waste. He needed treatment urgently because the blood supply to the tissues in his hand and forearm was restricted. Sharks don't brush their teeth, so the risk of infection also increased with time."
No one from the airport was available for comment.

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