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Friday, Oct 17, 2014

World

Teen surfer's lucky escape after Australia shark bite

AFP | Friday, Oct 17, 2014

SYDNEY - A teenage girl on Friday described her shock after being bitten by a shark when she landed on top of it while surfing off a popular Australian beach.

Kirra-Belle Olsson, 13, was on her board off Avoca Beach, 95 kilometres (59 miles) north of Sydney, early Friday when the shark grabbed her left leg.

"She'd fallen off her board and she felt something grabbing her leg," Surf Life Saving New South Wales spokeswoman Donna Wishart told AFP.

"She made her own way back to shore, and then other surfers and people on the beach have assisted her and they put her in a car and drove her to the hospital."

Olsson said she had "dropped in" on the shark - a surfing term for taking someone else's wave - and it bit her foot and calf three times.

"I paddled in just like in shock, just started laughing. I was like, 'Whoa, what the hell, I just got bitten by a shark, oh my God'," she told Channel Seven television from her hospital bed.

"And then I got halfway carried up the beach and telling my friend Saxon, 'take photos, take photos'."

Local media said she was treated for deep cuts to her leg and was due to undergo surgery later Friday.

Wishart said Avoca Beach - the scene of a shark attack in 2012 when a surfer was bitten on the arm - would be closed for 24 hours with lifeguards monitoring the area on jetskis.

The shark's species was not yet known, she added.

The attack came less than a week after some Western Australia beaches were closed following a suspected shark attack on a inflatable boat, although no one was hurt.

Experts say attacks by sharks, which are common in Australian waters, are increasing as water sports become more popular.

Earlier this month, two great white sharks were killed after a young surfer lost parts of both arms in an attack off the south coast of Western Australia.

The most recent fatality was last month, when a man was killed in front of his wife while swimming at Byron Bay on Australia's east coast.

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