WAILEA, Maui (HawaiiNewsNow) - Officials have reopened two miles of beaches in Makena following a shark attack on a snorkeler at Palauea Beach, also known as "White Rock."
The beach was closed Wednesday afternoon after the attack.
The victim, a woman in her 20's was visiting from Germany. Maui County officials said she was attacked by the shark as she was snorkeling at about 4:40 p.m. Wednesday. They also said that her right arm was severed in the attack.
"We heard screaming from the water and it was this unbelievable scream like I've never heard before," witness Andree Conley-Kapoi told MauiNow. "I stopped working and I said the only time anybody would scream like that would be if they were being attacked by a shark."
"We saw a number of people saying 'oh my god, look at all that blood,'" said witness Josh Craddock. "I couldn't actually see the blood at that stage. She was maybe 60 or 70 yards out from the beach."
"I could see she had a bite on her foot," said Conley-Kapoi. "And I could also see that she lost a limb. She lost an arm."
"It was pretty horrific," said Craddock. "Yeah, it was shocking."
Officials said the woman was transported to the emergency room at Maui Memorial Medical Center in critical condition.
Ocean Safety officials said the water was choppy with limited visibility at the time of the attack.
This is the seventh shark attack in Hawaiian waters so far this year, and the fourth on Maui. The most recent attack on the Valley Isle happened on July 31st, when another woman was bitten as she was snorkeling off Ulua Beach.
Beaches have been closed for one mile in each direction of Palauea Beach, from Makena Beach Resort to Mana Kai Resort. State and county officials were scheduled to return to the beach at 5:30 a.m. Thursday to determine when the beaches can be reopened. State officials said the area will remain closed for a minimum of 24 hours, according to shark attack protocols.
"At the moment we're just trying to get the word out to tell people to take this seriously," said witness Craddock. "It's not just a little shark attack. Someone's losing a limb here."
Land and sea searches conducted Thursday morning turned up no signs of a shark, beaches were reopened at noon.