EL-ARISH, Egypt - A shark tore the arm off an elderly German tourist at an Egyptian Red Sea resort, killing her almost immediately, security and diving officials said yesterday, only days after sharks badly mauled four other European tourists in the waters.

The German woman was swimming in the waters off Sharm el-Sheikh, a famed diving and vacation resort in the Sinai peninsula, when the shark attacked, Egyptian security officials said.

"It was definitely a shark attack," said Hesham Gabar, the head of Egypt's Chamber of Diving and Water Sports. The German Embassy in Cairo could not immediately be reached for comment.

Yesterday's deadly attack, which forced authorities to indefinitely close the resort's beaches, comes after oceanic white tip sharks mauled three Russians and a Ukrainian tourist last week, also off the coast of Sharm el-Sheikh. In one of those attacks, a shark bit off an elderly woman's hand and tore off another woman's leg.

Following those attacks, Egyptian authorities closed the beaches in Sharm el-Sheikh. On Thursday, the Environment Ministry said two sharks suspected of mauling the four tourists were caught.

Beach tourism is believed to contribute some 66 percent of Egypt's total income from tourism, which is expected to reach $12.3 billion by end of the current fiscal year ending 2011, Tourism Minister Zohair Garanah was quoted as saying in state-owned Al-Gomhuria daily.