SYDNEY – A shark killed a woman Thursday as she swam with a group of swimmers off a popular Australian east coast beach, police said.
Christine Armstrong, 63, was taken as she attempted to swim the 1,970 feet between the wharf and beach near the village of Tathra, 210 miles south of Sydney, police said in a statement.
The Tathra Wharf to Waves — a swim from the wharf to the beach and back again — is an annual event that attracts hundreds of swimmers each summer.
Local council general manager Leanne Barnes said the victim was part of a group of locals who meet at the beach every morning to swim out to the wharf and back.
"It's a beautiful little coastal village and this is one of those sad things that can happen," Barnes said.
Armstrong's family said in a statement that she had been swimming at the beach for 14 years and had been a trainer at the local volunteer lifeguard club.
"Swimming brought her much joy and many friends," the statement said. "She will be sadly missed by all who loved her, especially by Rob, her husband of 44 years."
Police said a helicopter and boat were being used to search for remains. No details on the species of the shark were released.
Although sharks are common off Australia's coast, the country has averaged fewer than two fatal attacks per year in recent decades. But fatal attacks are becoming more common. Two men were killed in shark attacks off the east and west coasts in the space of a week in November last year. They were the only fatalities for 2013.
Police on Wednesday recovered remains of a 38-year-old man reported missing last week while diving south of the west coast city of Perth. Police said the remains had shark bites, but it was not clear whether the man had been bitten before or after he died.