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Surfer dies after "unprecedented" shark attack near popular Australia beach

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A surfer was killed by a shark on Tuesday off the Australian east coast, police said. The man, aged in his 50s, had been surfing off Forster, 137 miles north of Sydney, when he was attacked late in the morning, a police statement said.

Onlookers pulled the man from the water suffering critical injuries to his upper right thigh, police said.

"Despite the best efforts of paramedics and bystanders at the scene, the man could not be resuscitated," NSW Ambulance said in a tweet.

Forster beaches have been closed.

Police said they were working with government authorities to identify the species of shark.

Lower North Coast Surf Life Saving branch president Brian Wilcox said a drone search after the attack had spotted two sharks in the area.

"It's pretty unprecedented. I can't recall ever having a shark attack in this area," Wilcox told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"We'll ... do drone missions for the next couple of days, within the Tuncurry Beach area, just to make sure there are no sharks hanging around," Wilcox added, referring to the beach where the surfer was attacked.

The man's name has not been released.

It was the first fatal shark attack in Australia since November when a 55-year-old surfer was mauled near the northwest town of Broome.

Last year, the toll of eight fatalities in shark attacks was Australia's highest since 1929, when nine died. The introduction of shark nets at popular beaches in the 1930s led to a significant fall in fatal attacks.

According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, which tracks shark attacks worldwide, there were 18 unprovoked shark attacks in Australia last year.

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