, SYDNEY, Nov 23 – A young man was killed in a suspected shark attack on Saturday at a popular surfing area in Western Australia, authorities said.
Police were called early Saturday to Lefthanders Beach near Gracetown, about 270 kilometres south of Perth, after the alarm was raised and found the male dead at the scene.
“It appears the man was surfing on his own,” police said in a statement.
“The injuries he received appear to be consistent with those that would be received in a shark attack.”
Police said the deceased, whose body was removed from the beach via helicopter, had not yet been identified but he was believed to be in his 20s.
“I ran up the beach and called police,” surfer Ryan Scanlon, who had been about to enter the water when the tragedy unfolded, told the Perth Now website.
“I saw him wash up. He was missing his left arm and flesh off the right leg.
“The shark bit him and held him for about a minute. He was dead before the shark let go.”
The Department of Fisheries and the Shire of Augusta Margaret River have closed a number of local beaches as a result of the death, including the main Gracetown beach.
The Department of Fisheries reportedly issued a “search and kill” notice for the shark.
Sharks are common in Australian waters but deadly attacks are rare, with only one of the average 15 incidents a year typically proving fatal.
Last month, a commercial diver suffered substantial injuries when he was attacked by a shark off a remote area of Western Australia.
There has not been a fatality since July 2012 when a surfer was bitten in half off Western Australia, capping an unprecedented spate of five deadly attacks by the marine predators that sparked calls for a cull.
Local marine scientists have described Australia’s west coast as the deadliest shark attack zone in the world, and a tagging and tracking programme has been launched in a bid to limit fatalities.