Woman taken by shark in Australia

SYDNEY (AFP) - A female swimmer aged in her 60s was taken by a shark off Australia's east coast on Thursday, police said, citing reports from witnesses.

The woman was swimming with a group of people between Tathra Wharf and Tathra Beach about 446 kilometres south of Sydney when she was attacked.

"It would appear the woman had turned back and was swimming on her own," police said in a statement. "Witnesses have told police the woman was taken by a shark."

The woman's body has not been found but police said a report would be prepared for the coroner.

While sharks are common in Australian waters, deadly attacks are rare, and Bega Valley Shire Council general manager Leanne Barnes said the community was shocked by the incident.

"Our thoughts go out to the emergency workers, the groups of swimmers and everybody there at this time," Barnes told ABC News 24.

"It's a very popular, sensationally beautiful part of the far south coast.

"There is a very famous local swim ... a group that swim (from the wharf) to the beach every day."

The attack follows a presumed death in February when a man went missing while spear-fishing off the South Australia coast the same week that a great white shark had been reported in the area.

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