An Australian man has died after he was bitten by a shark while kitesurfing in New Caledonia on Tuesday afternoon.
The 50-year-old from Western Australia was on a reef at Koumac with a group of others on a nearby catamaran at around 3.40pm local time (2.40pm AEST) when he fell into the water.
He was then attacked by a large shark, leaving him with a significant injury to his right thigh.
The catamaran, Discovery, raised the alarm at 3.48pm and a rescue boat was dispatched. In a statement, New Caledonia’s Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre said the man went into cardiac arrest and was given first aid by his friends before rescuers arrived.
The rescue boat brought him back to the port of Koumac, where an ambulance was waiting, however the man was declared dead by a doctor at 5pm.
Nicolas Renaud, the head of the rescue co-ordination centre, said the man was from Fremantle in Western Australia.
Local newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reported the man was visiting the island for a 10-day holiday.
Australian consular officials are assisting the man’s family, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to the family of an Australian man who died off Koumac, New Caledonia, on 6 September,” a DFAT spokeswoman said.
“Out of respect for the privacy of the man’s family, we will not be making further comment.”
Witnesses described the shark that attacked the man as large, but were unable to determine what species it may have been.
The attack is the third time this year kitesurfers have been bitten by sharks in New Caledonia. The other two attacks, in February and June, were not fatal.
More to come.