A surfer carries his board into the water next to a sign declaring a shark sighting on Sydney's Manly Beach, Australia. File/Reuters
A man who went missing while snorkelling off the Australian coast may have been taken by a shark, authorities said on Friday, after a search operation found pieces of diving equipment.
The man went missing late on Thursday while snorkelling near Port MacDonnell, on the country’s south coast, sparking an air and sea search, police said.
The search was later scaled back when rescuers pulled a damaged wetsuit and flippers from the water.
The man’s identity was not disclosed, other than that he was 32 and from nearby Victoria state. Local media reported he had been holidaying with family at the popular surfing and diving spot and they called the authorities when he failed to return.
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“We haven’t recovered any remains but there are a few remaining areas of interest that we want to explore, but the search will be scaled down,” the Australian Broadcasting Corp quoted South Australia Police Limestone Coast operations manager Campbell Hill as saying.
A shark had been reported seen in the area the previous day, Hill added, according to the ABC.
The incident would be Australia’s first recorded shark attack of 2021. The country saw a spike in fatal shark attacks in 2020 with eight lives lost, up from no lives lost the previous year, according to the Taronga Conservation Society, which collects shark attack data.
Police were preparing a report for the state coroner.
A 12-year-old boy started a bushfire and two teenage girls were questioned over another blaze in Australia’s Queensland state, police said on Tuesday as forest fires forced hundreds of people to flee their homes in the country’s east.
An Australian health official revealed on Monday that she has been under police guard because of death threats and growing public anger over pandemic border restrictions.
Police in Australia’s coronavirus hotspot state of Victoria stepped up patrolling on Saturday as hundreds of people in the city of Melbourne breached stringent lockdown restrictions and flocked to beaches on the warmest weekend in months.
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