British tourist's foot bitten off in Australia shark attack

One man has his foot bitten off, another suffered leg injury during snorkeling tour in the popular Whitsunday Islands.

    British tourist's foot bitten off in Australia shark attack
    More than 750,000 people annually visit the Whitsunday Island region where the attack took place [Ian Lloyd Neubauer]

    A man had his foot bitten off and another was seriously injured in a shark attack off Australia's northeast coast, officials in Queensland state said. 

    The pair of tourists was on a snorkelling tour near Airlie Beach in the Whitsunday Islands region when they were attacked on Tuesday.

    In the latest in a string of shark attacks in the popular tourist area, a 28-year-old man's right foot was bitten off while the other man, 22, suffered serious lacerations to his lower left leg, according to Mackay Base Hospital.

    They were flown by helicopter to the hospital, about 950 kilometres (590 miles) north of the state capital, Brisbane, in a "serious but stable condition", the state rescue service known as RACQ CQ Rescue said on Twitter.

    The men told the rescue crew "they were wrestling and thrashing about in the water" in a passage between Hayman and Whitsunday Islands when they were attacked. 

    "One of the patients was attacked first and the shark was believed to [have] come back" to attack the second, Queensland ambulance service operations manager Tracey Eastwick told reporters in Mackay.

    In the past year, there have been several reported shark attacks in waters around the Whitsunday Islands, which had been considered safe for swimming.

    A woman and child were believed to have been mauled by a shark in January, while a man died of his injuries and a 12-year-old girl lost a leg in two separate attacks on consecutive days last year.

    More than 750,000 people visit the Whitsunday Island region a year.

    According to the country's Shark Attack File, unprovoked shark attacks have injured 10 people in Australia this year, with no recorded deaths.

    There were 27 shark attacks in the country's waters in 2018, according to data compiled by Sydney's Taronga Zoo.

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    SOURCE: News agencies