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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 July, 2004, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Australian surfer killed by shark
Great White shark
The sharks are believed to have been Great Whites
A surfer has died after being attacked by at least one large shark in the sea off a popular beach in west Australia.

The man, in his late 20s, was savaged by what is believed to have been a Great White Shark near Margaret River, 300 km (185 miles) south of Perth.

Witnesses said one shark knocked the man off his surf board and another one bit him when he fell into the water.

The victim, named by police as Bradley Smith from Perth, was dragged to safety but died on the beach.

'Big as a car'

"The shark came up and bit his board. Another one just launched out of the water and got him and that was it," an onlooker told Perth's Sunday Mail newspaper.

Police said one shark was reportedly five metres (16.5 foot) long and the other three metres (10 foot).

Another witness told Australia's Sky News television that two teenagers who pulled the surfer out of the water said one of the sharks was "as big as a car".

Television pictures showed the remains of the victim's surf board, with the back half bitten off.

The beach has been closed and authorities have launched a search to kill the sharks.

It was the sixth fatal shark attack in Australian waters since 2000.

The last fatal attack happened off Queensland's Gold Coast in February 2003, when an 84-year-old man was killed swimming in a canal.

The BBC's Phil Mercer
"Their ferocity gave the victim little chance of survival"

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