Kite-surfer dies after large shark attacks him off South Pacific island
An Australian man has died after a large shark attacked him while he was kite-surfing in New Caledonia, a French island territory in the South Pacific.
The 50-year-old man had fallen from his board in a large lagoon near the north-western town of Koumac when the shark bit deep into his right thigh, said Nicolas Renaud, director of the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre.
Mr Renaud said the man, from near Perth, had arrived on Sunday for a holiday that was due to last about 10 days and had booked a cruise on a sailing boat so he could do some kite-surfing.
"The crew on the sailing yacht, they saw the attack," Mr Renaud said.
He added that the crew dragged the man back on board and administered first aid while calling rescuers, who sent a medical team, who took the man back to the port at Koumac.
"They tried to save him, to give him a heart massage, but it was too late," Mr Renaud said.
He said it was the fourth shark attack this year in New Caledonia, home to 275,000 people. He said an elderly woman was killed and two others injured in the previous attacks.
He said the Australian was near the reef that encloses the lagoon and far from the shore when the attack took place. He added that the lagoon is large enough for sharks to be common.
"We can't stop sharks entering the lagoon," he said. "He was just in a bad place at a bad time."
He said the boat crew was not able to identify the species of shark, but said it was very large.
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was providing consular assistance to the man's family.
"It's very tragic, it's very sad for the family," Mr Renaud said.