- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

PERTH, Australia (AP) - A 29-year-old surfer was hospitalized in critical condition Wednesday after a shark tore a leg off at an Australian west coast beach, officials said.

Ben Gerring was attacked at Falcon Beach, a popular surfing spot in his hometown of Mandurah, south of Perth city, as he was paddling his board out beyond 20 other surfers on Tuesday afternoon, his friend Brian Williams said.

“Next thing all hell broke loose and they were trying to bring him in,” Williams told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “His board was broken in half.”

Two surfers with longboards paddled out to bring him in, Williams said.

Mandurah Mail newspaper reporter Nathan Hondros said he arrived at the beach shortly after the attack and found ambulance crews trying to resuscitate Gerring.

“He had lost a leg from what looked like above the knee, so it was quite a savage attack by the looks of it,” Hondros told ABC.

Medical staff stabilized Gerring’s condition at Mandurah before he was flown 70 kilometers (45 miles) to the Royal Perth Hospital’s trauma center.

The hospital listed his condition as critical.

Life guards had tweeted earlier Tuesday that a 3.5-meter (11-foot) white shark had been seen off a nearby beach on Tuesday morning.

It was the first serious shark attack in Australia since March, when 22-year-old professional surfer Brett Connellan was badly injured off an east coast beach south of Sydney.


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