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A Scottish tourist is suspected to have died in a shark attack after his dismembered 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 on Saturday. 

He was on a week-long holiday with his wife in Saint-Gilles when he went missing. 

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.

Tiger Shark
The Tiger shark similar to the one shown above was captured for research purposes

Mr Quelquejeu told BBC: “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.”

"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.

Erick Quelquejeu - Local Resident

“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 have large signs, warning people against swimming in the ocean because of previous shark attacks. There are also billboards at the airport to warn travelers. 

Do Not Swim Sharks

“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.”

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

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

reunion island

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.”

Two people have been killed so far this year by shark attacks at Reunion island in the Indian Ocean. 

killer shark

A ban was implemented in 2013 prohibiting swimming and water sports across almost all of the island's beaches following several attacks in 2013.

An earlier version of this article appeared on BBC

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