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SAINT-DENIS DE LA REUNION, France – (AFP) – A teenage girl tourist was killed in a shark attack on Monday while swimming off the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, the second such attack this year in the French overseas territory.
Local officials said the 15-year-old was attacked in the mid-afternoon while swimming just a few metres (yards) from shore in Saint-Paul bay on the western side of the island.
The girl, on holiday from mainland France, was swimming with another girl who had just climbed on shore when the attack took place.
“Part of her body was carried away by the shark. Firefighters, lifeguards and a police helicopter are carrying out a search,” said Gina Hoarau, the head of public safety in Saint-Paul.
“The conditions of this attack are very surprising. We didn’t think a shark could come so close to the shore,” Hoarau said.
A 36-year-old French honeymooner was killed by a shark in May while surfing not far from the island’s popular beach of Brisants de Saint-Gilles.
Last year, 78 shark attacks were reported around the world, of which eight were fatal.