Woman killed in shark attack off Australian beach

A 63-year-old woman has died after being attacked by a shark at a popular beach 200 miles south of Sydney on the east coast of Australia.

Christine Armstrong, who was killed by a shark off Tathra. Picture: AP

Christine Armstrong, 63, was attacked by the shark as she completed her daily swim with her husband and friends to Tathra beach from the nearby wharf.

Armstrong’s family said in a statement that she had been swimming at the beach for 14 years and had been a trainer at the local volunteer lifeguard club.

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“Swimming brought her much joy and many friends,” the statement said. “She will be sadly missed by all who loved her, especially by Rob, her husband of 44 years.”

Police Inspector Jason Edmunds said Mrs Armstrong was separated from the other swimmers when a shark, between 3 and 4 metres long, was seen by the group.

Edmunds said: “The group joined up together and did their best to keep the shark at bay, although it didn’t directly attack them.

The swimmers did not see the attack, but a witness onshore did. Edmunds said the species of the shark was unknown.

Local council general manager Leanne Barnes said locals meet at the beach every morning to swim out to the wharf and back.

“It’s a beautiful little coastal village and this is one of those sad things that can happen,” Barnes said.

Police said a helicopter and boat were used to search for Armstrong’s remains. The fruitless search was called off late Thursday afternoon.

Shark attacks

Although sharks are common off Australia’s coast, the country has averaged fewer than two fatal attacks per year in recent decades, but fatal attacks are becoming more common.

Two men were killed in shark attacks off the east and west coasts in the space of a week in November last year, and earlier this week police recovered remains of a 38-year-old man reported missing last week while diving south of Perth.

Police said the remains had shark bites, but it was not clear whether the man had been bitten before or after he died.