Australia shark attack: Man suffers 'eight-hour' ordeal

A man snorkels in an area called the "Coral Gardens" near Lady Elliot Island, on the Great Barrier Reef, northeast of Bundaberg town in Queensland, Australia, June 11, 2015. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The shark came up behind the man while he was free-diving near the Great Barrier Reef (file picture)

An Australian diver who was mauled by a bull shark before being rescued and taken to a remote island had to wait more than eight hours to receive treatment for his wounds, emergency services say.

The scuba diver was attacked on the Great Barrier Reef, in a remote area off the north Queensland coast.

Media reports say torrential rain hampered the rescue effort.

The man, 55, suffered injuries to his hand, chest and stomach.

He was bitten repeatedly by the shark in what medics termed a particularly aggressive attack, and suffered significant blood loss.

Paramedic David Cameron said the man was 15 metres (50ft) underwater with other divers when the large shark attacked.

"The bull shark has come up from behind and has unfortunately bitten the patient on the arm several times and bitten him on the stomach," Mr Cameron said.

"He's very lucky to walk away."

Despite his injuries the man managed to swim back to his charter boat.

Medics performed first aid to stem the bleeding, but the vessel took several hours to reach the nearest medical centre on Murray Island, midway between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Bad weather meant it then took another three hours for a rescue helicopter to arrive from Horn Island and take the man to Thursday Island Hospital.

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Queensland Ambulance Service Supervisor Kirk Binnington told the Sydney Morning Herald that the attack occurred 65 nautical miles (75 miles; 120km) east of Murray Island.

Just a few hundred people live on the small volcanic island, which is covered with dense vegetation.

"You can't get more remote than that," Mr Binnington said.

The man is now reported to be in a stable condition in hospital.

Image copyright iStock
Image caption Bull sharks can be up to 3.5 metres (11.5ft) in length and like shallow, warm coastal waters

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