A trainer at the SeaWorld park in Orlando, Florida, has died after being attacked by a killer whale.Witnesses said the orca had jumped and grabbed Dawn Brancheau by the waist from a poolside platform before dragging her underwater.
Guests were evacuated while fire crews tried to rescue the 40-year-old, but they were unable to revive her.
The killer whale, Tilikum, was also reportedly involved in the death of a female trainer in Canada in 1991.
Other orcas were also said to have attacked trainers at SeaWorld parks in 2006 and 2004.
'Shaking her violently'
Chuck Tompkins, SeaWorld parks' head of animal training, was quoted by Reuters news agency saying: "She was rubbing the killer whale's head, and [it] grabbed her and pulled her in."
Jim Solomons, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Office, said early accounts indicated she could have slipped and fallen into the tank.
He said it was too early to tell if she had been attacked by the 12,000lb (5,450kg) orca.
But witnesses told a different story.
Park visitor Victoria Biniak told a local TV channel that the trainer had just finished explaining to the audience what they were about to see.
Audience member Eldon Skaggs told AP news agency the whale had "pulled her under and started swimming around with her".
A male spectator who witnessed the tragedy gave CNN a similar version of events.
Brazilian tourist Joao Lucio DeCosta Sobrinho and his girlfriend were at an underwater viewing area when they saw the whale with the trainer in its mouth.
The entertainment park, known for its killer whale, seal and dolphin displays, was closed after the incident. SeaWorld in San Diego also suspended its killer whale show.
Tilikum is said to have been involved in previous incidents, the BBC's Andy Gallacher reports from Florida.
A SeaWorld spokesman said the orca had been one of three whales blamed for killing a trainer in 1991 after she had fallen in a pool at a marine park in British Columbia, Canada.
After the whale - nicknamed Telly - was sold to SeaWorld Orlando it was involved in a second incident when authorities discovered the body of a naked man lying across his back in 1999.
Officials later concluded the man, who had either crept into SeaWorld after closing time or hidden in the park until it closed, probably drowned after suffering hypothermia.
In November 2006, a male trainer escaped with a broken foot after he was bitten and held underwater by a female killer whale during a show at SeaWorld's San Diego park.
In 2004, another whale at the company's San Antonio park attempted to bite a trainer, but he too escaped.
Though called a killer whale, the orca (Orcinus orca), is actually the largest member of the oceanic dolphin family.
Animal rights group Peta says it has long been asking SeaWorld to stop taking wild, ocean-going mammals and confining them to an area that, to them, is "the size of a bathtub".
Sunday, 13 April 2014
SeaWorld trainer dies in killer whale attack in Orlando
Fri Sep 13, 2019 01:44PM [Updated: Fri Sep 13, 2019 01:52PM ] Home Africa Somalia A newly arrived woman fleeing from the drought...
The Huffington Post Canada | By Arti Patel Email Posted: 02/06/2014 4:56 pm EST Updated: 02/06/2014 4:59 pm EST ...
Published time: 31 Aug, 2016 11:16 Get short URL Muslims pray at the Festival of Sacrifice Eid al-Adha outside the Jameh Mosque...