AVON, North Carolina (AP) -- A shark attacked a married couple wading in the surf Monday, killing the man and leaving his wife in critical condition.
AVON, N.C. -- A 28-year-old Russian visitor was killed and his 23-year-old girlfriend was critically injured Monday after they were attacked by a shark along the Outer Banks.
Officials have identified the victim who died as Sergi Zaloukaev from Arlington. He lost his right foot above the ankle, and medical officials are performing an autopsy at Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville.
His friend Natalia Slobonskaya, from Vienna, Va., underwent surgery last night at a Norfolk hospital. She lost her left foot, and rescuers didn't recover it. Her mother has joined her at the hospital.
Authorities on U.S. Coast Guard flights made two aerial searches today of the area along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Spotters on one flight did see sharks, but the nearest ones to the scene of the attack were about 10 miles away, said Mary Doll of the National Park Service.
Monday's shark attack was the second fatal shark attack in the region over the holiday, coming about 99 miles south of where a 10-year-old boy was fatally attacked Saturday off Sandbridge.
The two fatalities are the only ones reported among 51 shark attacks this year in U.S. waters. There were 53 attacks in the United States last year.
The last reported fatal shark attack in North Carolina waters came in 1957, according to the International Shark Attack File in Gainesville, Fla.
Beaches were open today but officials advised swimmers to be cautious, especially near dusk and dawn when sharks look for food near the shore.
``I don't know if I would use the word 'afraid,''' said David Griffin, director of North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. '``Respect' is better.''
Slobonskaya was alert and stable but remained in critical condition today, said Sandra Miller, spokeswoman for Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. She was on a ventilator to assist her breathing, said Dr. Jeffrey Riblet, a trauma surgeon at the hospital.
The woman was flown to the trauma center at Sentara Norfolk on Monday by a Dare County helicopter ambulance.
The couple suffered ``multiple dramatic injuries'' to their legs and buttocks, said Dr. Seaborn Blair of the Avon Medical Center.
The man was pronounced dead in Avon shortly after the attack.
Just after 10 p.m., Norfolk General officials said the woman was in critical but stable condition after surgery and was in the intensive care unit. She also had severe injuries to her torso.
``I think, barring any unforeseen complications such as infection, we'll be able to get her on the road to recovery,'' Riblet said late Monday.
``I believe she'll do well in terms of her outcome,'' said Dr. Jon D. Mason, an emergency physician.
``She lost a fair amount of blood,'' Mason said. ``IVs were established quickly so that she never lost consciousness totally. They did a good job in Carolina.
``She has several wounds. . . . blood loss is a concern,'' he said, without elaborating, but ``things are looking good for her.''
Dorothy Toolan, a Dare County spokeswoman, said both victims are Russian citizens. Doll, of the National Park Service, said the couple were boyfriend and girlfriend and were interns in the Washington area.
An employee of the Embassy of the Russian Federation said officials there were unaware of the incident Monday night, but he said officers were being informed.
The pair were swimming about 20 to 40 feet off shore near a sandbar when they were attacked about 6 p.m., just off the beach at Greenwood Place in the Askins Creek area of Avon.
Gary Harkin, 33, of Columbus, Ohio, was with his friend Paul Richards and Richards' wife, Carolyn, under a tent on the beach. He said friends of the couple helped them ashore.
``He was still talking when he came out of the water,'' Harkin said. Harkin said he tried to put a tourniquet on the man's leg with his long-sleeve T-shirt. Meanwhile, Carolyn Richards administered CPR.
``I did have a pulse on him twice, but I lost him,'' she said.
Harkin said it appeared that the man had lost a leg and a finger. The woman, he said, lost her left foot and had been bitten on her left hip and left wrist. Both also had injuries in the groin area, he said.
Doll said that when the first official, a Dare County sheriff's deputy, arrived, the man was in full cardiac arrest.
Daniel Roughton, 21, of Avon was surfing near the couple with three other people. He said he next saw the couple on the beach, with someone administering CPR.
``A guy came running down the beach telling everybody to get out of the water,'' Roughton said.
Dare County officials were moving quickly Monday night to determine the extent of the danger posed by sharks in Outer Banks waters. The Dare County Control Group -- a gathering of emergency officials and key department heads normally brought together for hurricanes -- was meeting late Monday.
Sandy Sanderson, director of emergency operations for the county, said aircraft would survey the coastal area today to look for sharks. It was unclear whether beaches would be open today along the Outer Banks.
Relatives of the boy fatally attacked Saturday in Virginia Beach were critical of the decision to keep beaches open after being told of the new attack Monday.
``It's endangering people,'' said David Winter, 33, whose nephew, 10-year-old David Peltier, became the first person in the country to die from a shark attack this year.
He called Virginia Beach's choice to reopen its beaches to the public one day after the attack ``irresponsible.''
``I guess people go to beaches for the beach and don't think about what's in the water,'' said David's grandfather, Harry Winter.
On Saturday, a shark in Virginia Beach fatally attacked 10-year-old David Peltier, ripping a 17-inch gash in his left leg and releasing him only after the boy's father hit the shark on the head. The father, Richard Peltier, carried David ashore, but the boy died hours later after losing large amounts of blood from a severed artery.
Sanderson, the Dare County spokesman, said it was too early to speculate on the type of shark responsible for Monday's attack. That would have to wait until the survivor could be interviewed and the injuries more closely examined.
The waters off North Carolina are home to all kinds of sharks, said Jack Musick, professor of marine science at The Virginia Institute of Marine Science and head of the Shark Research Program.
``At Avon you're essentially talking about the same situation here in Virginia Beach, ecologically,'' Musick said. ``There are more blacktips down there than there are up here for sure.''
The water off Cape Hatteras is bull shark territory, he said.
``They're the ones that are the problem,'' Musick said. ``They like to eat large animals like sea turtles.''
A shark aggressive enough and powerful enough to attack two people, killing one, would have to be one of the bigger sharks, such as a bull shark, said George Burgess of the International Shark Attack File.
``It's a large shark,'' he said. ``And more commonly found right along the beach with a reputation for attacking humans.''
Bull sharks have been implicated in a number of severe attacks, including a July attack on an 8-year-old boy in Pensacola, Fla., and a fatal attack on a man in St. Petersburg, Fla., last summer, he said.
These are the first reported attacks in North Carolina this year.
Carolyn McCormick, managing director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, said that a common denominator with Monday's attack and the one in Virginia Beach on Saturday was that they both occurred around 6 p.m.
``We need to ask people to act with caution, especially at those times,'' she said, adding: ``Our condolences go out to everyone who's related to these two people. It's heartbreaking.''
There had been no reports of anyone seeing any sharks in the area before the attacks, officials said, but there have been sightings in recent days.
Maylon White of the Virginia Marine Science Museum said the ferocity of the attack ``could suggest that it was a tiger shark. . . . There is no way to know for sure. All you can do is rule out other suspects.''
What he was certain of is that the proximity and timing of the two fatal attacks is stunning.
``I think it would surprise anybody,'' he said late Monday. ``Last year there was only one fatality in the U.S. and here we have had two occur.''
He said it was difficult to know if the events are merely a tragic coincidence or evidence of something more ominous.
``If we go for the rest of the year without anything, people will look back and say it was coincidental,'' he said. ``But if something else happens in the next few weeks, that will change the thinking.''
He said officials face tough choices in answering the question of whether beaches should remain open.
There have been only 19 recorded attacks -- including the two Monday -- in North Carolina waters since 1670. But five nonfatal attacks were reported last year, giving the state the second-highest number of incidents; Florida posted 34.
Last year, a 12-year-old girl was attacked near Corolla on the Outer Banks. She required 300 stitches, but survived.
Monday's attack came just as the local and national news media were attempting to add a layer of perspective to 48 hours of heavy coverage of Friday's fatal attack in Virginia Beach.
CNN, for instance, had labeled this the ``Year of the Shark.'' But by Sunday evening, the fact that the number of reported attacks this year is no greater than the levels of recent years was getting greater attention. Then, in the midst of a special half-hour report on shark attacks, came news of the latest fatality on the Outer Banks.
Many coastal residents, tourism officials and beachgoers had sought to be calm about the situation, most recognizing the Virginia Beach death as highly unusual.
How the new attack just down the coastline would affect people's attitudes and tourism was unclear.
``I think this is going to really shake things,'' said Gary Barnette, 61, a retired law enforcement officer who has lived just south of Avon on Ocracoke Island for 18 years. ``This is something you really don't want to see. It's scary.''