Shark may have seized Australian snorkeller: Police

The incident would be Australia's first recorded shark attack of 2021. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - A man who went missing while snorkelling off the Australian coast may have been taken by a shark, the authorities said on Friday (Jan 22), after a search operation found pieces of diving equipment.

The man went missing late on Thursday while snorkelling near Port MacDonnell, on the country's south coast, sparking an air and sea search, police said. The search was later scaled back when rescuers pulled a damaged wetsuit and flippers from the water.

The man's identity was not disclosed, other than that he was 32 and from nearby Victoria state.

Local media reported he had been holidaying with family at the popular surfing and diving spot and they called the authorities when he failed to return.

"We haven't recovered any remains but there are a few remaining areas of interest that we want to explore, but the search will be scaled down," the Australian Broadcasting Corp quoted South Australia Police Limestone Coast operations manager Campbell Hill as saying.

A shark had reportedly been seen in the area the previous day, Mr Hill added, according to the ABC. The incident would be Australia's first recorded shark attack of this year.

The country saw a spike in fatal shark attacks last year with eight lives lost, up from no lives lost the previous year, according to the Taronga Conservation Society, which collects shark attack data. Police were preparing a report for the state coroner.

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