An Australian man died after he was attacked by a shark on Tuesday at a popular surfing spot in Queensland, authorities say.
The 46-year-old man was bitten on his leg just after 5 p.m. while surfing at Greenmount Beach in Coolangatta, a suburb of the city of Gold Coast, according to the Queensland Police Service. He was surfing near the local lifesaving club’s headquarters.
Video from the scene showed at least six people rushing to get the victim out of the surf and onto the beach.
Witness Jade Parker told CNN affiliate 7 News that he saw the man floating next to the surfboard as people went to help.
“I just presumed he might have got knocked out, because he wasn’t moving in the water,” he said.
Parker told 7 News that he saw that the man was badly injured, but surf lifesavers began treating him as soon as rescuers got him to the beach. Parker said the wound extended from the man’s groin to slightly past his knee.
“He was pretty much already gone by then,” Parker said.
Paramedics treated the man, who has not been identified, but he died at the scene, police said.
Beach protected by shark nets
People on the beach panicked as news of the attack spread, witness Leo Cabral told CNN affiliate 9 News.
“Everyone was running around, there were kids crying on the sand … A few people were standing by and were watching and couldn’t believe what they were seeing,” he said. “It was so sad, it was really sad.”
Cabral told 9 News that he was filming his 13-year-old son in the water when he heard people yelling “shark, shark, shark.”
“The first thing that came to my mind was that I just wanted my son and his friends to be out of the water … I couldn’t feel my body at all, I was completely frozen, I was blank, he told 9 News. “I started screaming to my son to get out of the water.”
A police helicopter to launched to search for the shark while beaches north and south of Greenmount were closed after the attack and nearby beaches will be closed on Wednesday, 9 News reported.
Greenmount Beach is protected by shark nets, which are designed to catch potentially dangerous sharks, so they can’t harm people.
“The equipment lowers risk, but does not provide an impenetrable barrier between sharks and humans,” according to the Queensland Government Shark Control Program’s website.
There have been at least six fatal shark attacks this year, according to the Australian Shark Attack File at the Taronga Conservation Society Australia. There were no fatal shark attacks last year and only one in 2018, according to the society’s database.
Gavin Naylor, the program director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, told CNN that the number of fatal shark attacks can jump dramatically from year to year.
The program runs the International Shark Attack File, a global database of shark attacks.
“We see fluctuations every year and we don’t make too much of them,” he said.
Last month in New South Wales, a male surfer punched a great white shark repeatedly on the nose when it bit the woman he was surfing with. She was airlifted to a hospital for surgery and survived.
In July, a 36-year-old man died after being attacked by a shark while spearfishing off the coast of Fraser Island in the Australian state of Queensland, and a 15-year-old boy died in a suspected shark attack while surfing in New South Wales.
In June, a 60-year-old surfer died while surfing at Salt Beach near Kingscliff in New South Wales – about 10 miles away from Tuesday’s attack.
In April, a Queensland wildlife ranger was killed by a great white, and in January a 57-year-old diver died from a shark attack in Western Australia state.