Woman killed in shark attack at Amity Point, Australia

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Sunday, January 8, 2006Original Reporting

Location of the attack

A woman in Australia has been killed in a shark attack. The attack occurred at 5pm (Local Time) just off Amity Point, North Stradbroke Island, south-east of Brisbane.

The woman, described as 21, had lost both arms up to the elbow and sustained severe wounds to her torso and legs. She was carried to shore by friends and was then flown by rescue helicopter to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. Surgeons were unable to save her.

The woman was holidaying from Brisbane with a church camp and attempts to contact her family have been made.

Emergency Services Rescue Helicopter crew officer Rod Morgan said the woman had suffered massive blood loss.

"She was very pale" he said, "We were diverted right away and were able to be on the scene within minutes and were able to have the patient at hospital within an hour of the attack."

"She had life threatening injuries she had lost significant amounts of blood and the patient had what we would call an altered level of consciousness where it wasn't able to communicate directly with the patient" said Queensland Ambulance paramedic Lachlan Parker.

There were many witnesses at the scene and they are now being interviewed by Police at Amity Point. They are described as being distraught.

One witness, who asks to not be identified, described that the victim was swimming in the sea with her Border Collie. When the attack happened, the dog ran home to raise the alarm.

"I was across the road from where she was staying and I saw the dog come flying up the road all wet and shivering and whimpering," she said, "Then a little boy came running up and said the girl had lost her leg and her arm and everyone ran out of the house towards the beach. It was just a little black-and-white dog but he was crazy so I locked him under the house."

Other reports claim that the woman had been scuba diving in murky shallow water approximately 15 metres from the shore.

The woman is believed to be from McDowall in Brisbane, but her name has not yet been released.

A resident of Amity Point for 20 years, Brad Ross, said tourists visiting the area have been warned of potential attacks; "The shore just falls away into 30m of water and there are plenty of bull sharks out there. People know when they enter the water there they're stepping into a shark habitat."

Other beaches on the island are protected by drum lines.

Queensland state police inspector Peter Harding believes from the severity of the woman's injuries that she was attacked by a group of bull sharks, a species known for aggressive behavior this time of year. Water police will search for the sharks today and as a result, beaches on the east and west of Amity Point have been closed.

This is the first attack in the area since August 1972.

Local wisdom cautions against allowing dogs in the water at swimming beaches, because of a fear that they attract sharks, perhaps because of residue accumulated from fleas which live on the dog's blood.

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