A Cape Town teenager scrambled into a boat to escape a shark only to watch with horror as it turned around and attacked his brother, biting his foot off.
"I got in the boat. It turned and went straight for my brother," Taariq Hassiem, 17, told of the ordeal which unfolded in the waves off Sunrise Beach in Muizenberg at 11am on Sunday.
"I stuck my hand in the water to see if I could hold him. He grabbed on to my hand. We grabbed him out as fast as possible... His foot was cut clean off," said Taariq.
"It's the worst thing that could happen to me. It was the worst sight ever."
'It actually knocked the boat quite hard'
While Taariq helped pull his seriously injured brother Achmat, 24, from the sea, the shark - believed to be a great white - circled and attacked the boat.
At the time, the Hassiem brothers, both surf lifesavers, were on a training exercise in the waves with a team from the False Bay Lifesaving Club.
They were alone together in the deep water, acting as "patients" for three lifesavers in a boat, when Achmat saw the shark heading for Taariq.
"It was by me, my brother shouted 'Taariq, shark'."
He knew his brother would not joke about a shark.
'There were two teeth stuck into the bone'
Once Taariq had been hauled into the boat it headed for Achmat, but he disappeared beneath the water. Seeing a dark patch, Taariq reached in to grab his brother, not knowing if the shark would bite him.
Achmat was pulled into the boat, his leg "dripping with blood" but instead of swimming away, "the shark actually turned around and came for us again", said Taariq.
"It actually knocked the boat quite hard, but there were five of us in the boat so it couldn't knock it over."
They got Achmat ashore where he was treated by lifesaver medics who controlled the bleeding, elevated his leg and stabilised his condition, said National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesperson Craig Lambinon.
He was then airlifted to the Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic by Metro Red Cross AMS helicopter. His family waited at the hospital while he underwent hours of surgery.
"He's just out of theatre and recovering in ICU. His condition is stable," hospital official Sister BJ Coetzee said on Sunday night.
The boys' father, Moegsien Hassiem, said Achmat had told him he believed the shark was a great white.
"He saw it, he was face to face with it at the bottom of the sea."
His son was looking "much better" after his operation.
"There were two teeth stuck into the bone. So they're going to send them away and see what kind of shark it was."
Taariq, who is in Grade 12 at Bergvliet High, and the other lifesavers were sent for trauma counselling.
Lambinon said the attack took place 200m offshore in "glassy, clear seas with approximately half a metre swell and a slight on-shore breeze" at a depth of 2m to 3m.
While there was mostly clear water visibility, a patch near a river mouth was murky.
Lambinon urged bathers, surfers, paddlers and boaters to be careful along that stretch of coast. - Sapa
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