Australia shark attack: British man killed at Byron Bay

media captionLifeguard Scott McCartney: "People are scared at how close to shore the attack took place"

A 50-year-old British man has been killed in a shark attack off a beach in Byron Bay, the most easterly point on the Australian mainland, officials say.

Paul Wilcox, originally from Warwickshire, sustained severe injuries on his right leg at the popular tourist destination in New South Wales.

A swimmer brought him in to the beach but he was pronounced dead.

Beaches in the area have been closed for 24 hours and people have been warned to stay out of the water.

Mr Wilcox, a British information technology specialist, had been living in Australia for more than 10 years.

"At 10:45 police and paramedics were called to Main Beach after reports of a shark attack," New South Wales police said in their initial statement.

"He was in the water when he was bitten. He was seen floating in shallow water, close to the shore line, and dragged onto the beach. An ambulance was called and he was pronounced dead a short time later," the statement said.

Police said Mr Wilcox's wife was watching from the shore, ABC reported.

image copyrightWestpac Life Saver Rescue
image captionEyewitnesses said they spotted a "six or seven foot" shark in the water

Witness Mark Hickey said he tried to help.

"I saw what looked like seaweed but it was blood in the water," he said. "I didn't know it was a person but when I realised, I ran out and waded to the bank and grabbed him and did CPR but it was too late."

He told local media he saw a "six or seven foot" shark in the water.

Rescue organisation Surf Lifesaving Australia said the beach was not supervised at the time of the attack as it had occurred a week before seasonal duties.

"At the council's request, lifeguards will be on duty for at least the next 24 hours ensuring the water remains clear," it said in a statement.

Shark attacks in Australia

  • New South Wales sees more attacks than any other state, followed by Queensland and Western Australia
  • The Northern Territory and Tasmania see the fewest attacks
  • Attacks in 2014: Woman killed at Tathra Beach, NSW (Apr), Man killed off Goldsmith Beach, SA (Feb)
  • Attacks in 2013: Man killed at Campbell's Beach, NSW (Nov); Man killed in Gracetown, WA (Nov)
  • Sept 2011-Jul 2012: Five people killed off Western Australia's beaches

Sources:, Australian media reports

image copyrightEPA
image captionAustralian police said investigations into the shark attack were still ongoing

There have been several shark attacks off Australia's beaches in recent years.

In April, a woman was killed as she swam off Tathra beach, also in New South Wales.

The Western Australia government, meanwhile, has ordered a cull of sharks, following at least six fatal attacks off the state's beaches in three years.

Baited hooks have been installed off Perth's popular beaches. Any shark more than three metres long - which could include Great White, Tiger and Bull sharks - will be shot.

The controversial move prompted thousands of people to take part in protests against the culls.

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