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Wednesday 27 August 2014

Shark kills woman in Australia

Published 03/04/2014 | 06:27

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Christine Armstrong was killed by a shark as she swam off a popular Australian beach, police said. (AP/NSW Police)

A shark killed a woman as she swam off a popular Australian east coast beach, police said.

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Christine Armstrong, 63, was taken as she attempted to swim the 1,970 feet between the wharf and beach near the village of Tathra, 210 miles south of Sydney.

The Tathra Wharf to Waves - a swim from the wharf to the beach and back again - is an annual event that attracts hundreds of swimmers each summer.

Local council general manager Leanne Barnes said the victim was part of a group of locals who meet at the beach every morning to swim out to the wharf and back.

"It's a beautiful little coastal village and this is one of those sad things that can happen," she said.

Ms Armstrong's family said in a statement that she had been swimming at the beach for 14 years and had been a trainer at the local volunteer lifeguard club.

"Swimming brought her much joy and many friends," the statement said. "She will be sadly missed by all who loved her, especially by Rob, her husband of 44 years."

Police said a helicopter and boat were being used to search for remains. No details on the species of the shark were released.

Although sharks are common off Australia's coast, the country has averaged fewer than two fatal attacks per year in recent decades.

But fatal attacks are becoming more common. Two men were killed in shark attacks off the east and west coasts in the space of a week in November last year. They were the only fatalities for 2013.

Police yesterday recovered remains of a 38-year-old man reported missing last week while diving south of the west coast city of Perth. Police said the remains had shark bites, but it was not clear whether the man had been bitten before or after he died.

Ms Armstrong was some distance from five other swimmers including her husband when they saw a 10ft to 13ft shark, said police inspector Jason Edmunds.

"The group joined up together and did their best to keep the shark at bay, although it didn't directly attack them," Mr Edmunds told Nine Network television.

The swimmers did not see the attack, but a witness onshore did. Mr Edmunds said the species of the shark is unknown.

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