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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 January 2007, 07:50 GMT
Diver escapes from shark's jaws
Great white shark
The shark took a second bite

An Australian diver has escaped from the jaws of a Great White shark which had grabbed him by the head.

Eric Nerhus, 41, was diving off Cape Howe on Australia's south-east coast when he was attacked.

A fellow diver said the three-metre (10-foot) shark bit Mr Nerhus from the head down, crushing his face mask inwards and breaking his nose.

He managed to break free and was hauled aboard a waiting boat. His condition is described as serious but stable.

"Eric is a tough boy, he's super-fit," his friend and fellow diver Dennis Luobikis told reporters.

"But I would say that would test anyone's resolve, being a fish lunch."

Second bite

Mr Luobikis, Mr Nerhus and his son - as well as other friends - were fishing for abalone off the coast, some 400km (249 miles) south of Sydney, when the attack happened.

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"He was actually bitten by the head down, the shark swallowed his head," Mr Luobikis said.

The shark then took a second bite, this time seizing Mr Nerhus by the body and biting into his torso.

Mr Luobikis said his friend "pushed his abalone chisel" into the shark's head, managing to wrestle himself free before the shark swam away.

"He came up to the surface and was going: "Help, help there's a shark," Mr Nerhus's 25-year-old son Mark said later.

"And I went over and there was a big pool of blood, and I pulled him out of the water he was just: "Get me to shore, get me to shore"."

Mr Nerhus was airlifted to hospital where doctors said he was suffering from blood loss and shock.

Shark attacks are not uncommon in Australian waters, the BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney says.

There are around 15 a year - one of the highest rates in the world.

An average of one a year is fatal.




SEE ALSO
'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
12 Jan 06 |  Asia-Pacific



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