The family of twin sisters who were attacked by a crocodile in Mexico has blamed an unlicensed tour operator for taking them to a dangerous lagoon and launched a fundraising drive to cover medical bills and emergency flights.
Melissa Laurie, was bitten, shaken and dragged underwater by a crocodile while swimming near Puerto Escondido, but was saved by her sister Georgia, who repeatedly punched the reptile and fought it off as she pulled her twin to safety.
The 28-year-olds, from Berkshire, are both recovering in hospital but Melissa, a zookeeper, remains in a “delicate” condition in intensive care having been placed in a medically induced coma.
Her older sister Hana said she had suffered an open wrist fracture, organ lacerations, internal bleeding and water on her lungs.
Georgia is being supported by staff from the British embassy in a different part of the hospital, and despite injuries to her hands, could be released as soon as today, the Telegraph understands.
In an emotional post on GoFundMe, a fundraising website, Hana Laurie wrote: “My sisters were taking a break from their ambitions to scuba dive and work with animals when they took a trip with a guide recommended by their hostel near Puerto Escondido, in Mexico.
“It has since transpired that this guide was known locally to be operating in an unlicensed and illegal way, but since is nowhere to be found.
“We are so lucky that Georgia was there, and had an immediate reaction through her water rescue training to fight off the crocodile and drag Mel to safety.
“Georgia punched the crocodile repeatedly as it came back three times to attack, while friends of theirs went to get help.
“My family are overwhelmed with pride that Georgia managed to take the brave action she did, but now are faced with the difficulty of travelling to Mexico to support them and pay for their medical care.
“There as yet isn’t clarification on how much we’ll need, but already it feels very overwhelming.”
As of Tuesday evening, more than £7,000 had been raised.
The pair were part of a group excursion to the Manialtepec Lagoon, a popular tourist attraction, known for its bioluminescent plankton.
The twins’ elder sister said they had booked a tour with a guide through their hostel but later found out that their tour guide was not registered and had taken them to a dangerous swimming spot.
“He’s an unlicensed tour guide and according to someone on a Mexican Facebook page he’s been doing it for a while, doing illegal tours in unsafe, unregistered areas,” Hana said.
“He’s gone to where the crocodiles live and not the location where all legal certified sanctioned tours take place. He has been called out locally before, apparently, but that wasn’t for my sisters to know. They found out the information through their hospital.”
The twins’ father, Sean, said the sisters were assured by their tour company that it was safe to swim in the water.
It is not clear whether a criminal investigation has been launched into the tour operator, and Mexican police did not comment when asked by The Telegraph.
The family are now trying to work out if they are able to fly over to Mexico to support the twins, but said it is more difficult due to the cost and Mexico being placed on Britain’s amber list.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said: “We are supporting the family of two British women who are in hospital in Mexico, and are in contact with the local authorities.”