January 7, 2006

Up to three sharks in fatal attack: Australia police

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Up to three sharks may have attacked
a woman who has died in hospital in northern Australia after
suffering horrific injuries in a mauling off a popular tourist
beach, police said on Sunday.

Sarah Kate Whiley, 21, from the northern city of Brisbane,
was attacked on Saturday while swimming at Amity Point, on
North Stradbroke Island in Queensland state.

Whiley lost both arms up to the elbow and suffered wounds
to the legs and torso.

"It is believed, given the extent of the injuries, that
more than one shark may have been involved in the attack," a
Queensland police spokeswoman told Reuters on Sunday.

Beaches near the scene were closed on Sunday, with police
patrolling on foot and by boat to warn the public, and
conducting a helicopter sweep of the area. The beaches were
expected to reopen on Monday.

Police said it appeared that the attack was made by up to
three bull sharks, a species that has a tendency to hunt in
packs and which is common in the area at this time of year.

Whiley was swimming with three friends at the time, but had
ventured into deeper water, which was cloudy following storms
on Friday night.

Australia's first recorded shark attack was in 1791. By
September 2005, there had been a total of 654 in Australian
waters, 192 of them fatal, in the past 200 years, according to
the Australian Shark Attack File at Sydney's Taronga Zoo.

Queensland saw its last previous fatal attack in 2004,
according to the file.

North Stradbroke Island is easily accessible from Brisbane
by car and ferry, making it a popular weekend holiday