Page last updated at 05:23 GMT, Monday, 6 February 2006

Shark stalks Sydney swimming race

Swimming shark
The shark was chased away by boats

More than 20 swimmers were hauled from the water during an ocean swimming race in Australia when a three-metre-long shark started stalking swimmers.

The 10km (six-mile) Cole Classic race off Sydney's Manly Beach was abandoned halfway, local media reports said.

Twenty-one swimmers were picked up by boats and jet skis while other boats chased the shark away, organisers said.

The rescue came weeks after three sharks killed a 21-year-old Australian woman off Brisbane.

'Mass evacuation'

"The shark was on the surface so the best thing we could do was start a mass evacuation straight away," race director Stephen Ford told Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The race involved some of Australia's top long-distance swimmers. The shark's dorsal fin was seen slicing through the water behind the swimmers.

The woman who died off Brisbane in January was the 10th to be killed by a shark in Australian waters since 2000.

In September of last year a surfer fought a five-metre-long (15 ft) great white shark in waters of South Australia's Kangaroo Island.

'Gang of sharks' kills Australian
08 Jan 06 |  Asia-Pacific
How best to fight off a shark?
19 Jan 06 |  Magazine
Australia rethinks shark defences
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