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Inside world’s deadliest ever shark attack with 150 mauled to death over 4 days

More than 150 perished in the frenzy but some survived to tell the tale including veteran Edgar Harrell, who was just 20 when the USS Indianapolis was sunk in 1945 and a deadly attack ensued

The crew of the USS Indianapolis had no idea of the terrors that were in store in their doomed mission

When naval ship USS Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine in 1945, it was incredibly just the start of the horrors facing the soldiers on board.

Those who managed to escape the marooned vessel soon had something sinister to worry about.

The blue Pacific waters which appeared at first to be a safe haven were about to turn a terrifying shade of red.

The sub’s attack ignited a tank containing 3,500 gallons of aviation fuel and the cold ocean was their only place to flee.

They soon discovered it wasn’t the temperature that posed the problem as lying in wait were the jaws of some fearsome beasts.

The sinking of the USS Indianapolis had terrifying and devastating results
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Tiger sharks and oceanic whitetip sharks sunk their teeth into the surviving crew in the biggest attack on humans ever recorded by the predators.

To make matters worse, the sustained attacks lasted around four days as the weakening troops started to flag as the sharks refused to stop circling.

It is estimated more than 150 perished, but some survived to tell the tale.

Sergeant Edgar Harrell survived the worst shark attack of all time
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Sergeant Edgar Harrell said he could still hear the screams of the friends who were clinging to each other as the creatures began ripping chunks out of their legs.

“You would hear a blood-curdling scream and look and see someone going under – all we heard was men being eaten alive, every day, every night,” Harrell said in 2019.

Map shows the location of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis by a Japanese sub while the ship was enroute from Guam, July 1945
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Captain Charles B. McVay of the US Navy was captain of the USS Indianapolis during World War II
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“You’d find your buddy and check him and find that he’s disembowelled, or the bottom was gone.

He added: “I swam away from the ship and towards a group of marines who had already fled the boat – one was badly injured and he died in my arms within the next hour.”

Mr Harrell, the last surviver of the attack, died in May 2021.

The World War II cruiser USS Indianapolis is seen off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, on July 10, 1945
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He explained what he and his colleagues went through as they kept themselves alive for days in the open water as the sharks eyed them up.

Troops huddled together in the ocean in the hope they could scare the predators away, but many were unable to avoid the feeding frenzy.

Of 80 men who huddled together in the water with Mr Harrell, just 17 were alive three days later.

Japanese Zeke exploding near the USS Essex after being shot down by the USS Indianapolis, near Southern Honshu, Japan, March 19, 1945
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He and a friend only escaped because a group of sailors urged them to join them on a makeshift raft and paddle toward land.

Those who didn’t go did not survive, he said.

The small group were spotted the following day by a US bomber carrying out an antisubmarine patrol.

Mr Harrell later said: “We were the lucky ones – when you get some 900 boys out there decaying in misery, sharks are gonna swim through there and they’re gonna attack what’s in their road.”

The hungry sharks killed most of the surviving crew in the biggest attack on humans ever recorded (stock image)
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Of the 1,195 crew on the ship when it was torpedoed, just 316 were left alive.

In August 2017, the ruins of the ship were found 18,000ft below the surface.

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