The woman was pulled from the waters of Waihi Beach, Bay of Plenty, in the North Island on Thursday afternoon in “harrowing scenes” witnessed by vi
The woman was pulled from the waters of Waihi Beach, Bay of Plenty, in the North Island on Thursday afternoon in “harrowing scenes” witnessed by visitors, local media reports. She is said to have been alive and paramedics performed CPR on the beach to no avail.
The woman suffered leg wounds and died at the scene, according to police officials.
More than 60 species of shark are known to swim in New Zealand’s waters with sightings reported in the area in recent weeks.
In a statement, police said: “Initial indications suggest she may have been injured by a shark. Sadly she died at the scene a short time later.”
A witness, who asked to be kept anonymous, told news website Stuff the woman appeared to be in her early 20s. Emergency services were called to the beach at around 5.10pm.
He said: “I could hear some screams and then I saw the IRB [inflatable rescue boat] go out to get her.
“Obviously her friends were remarkably distraught.”
Another witness, Elliot Hall, said paramedics administered CPR on the woman for more than 20 minutes as family and friends gathered around.
Local resident Mark Wilson had also been swimming in the area before a rescue helicopter landed and he was ordered to evacuate. He believes it may have been a great white, and has often seen sharks in the area.
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The last fatal shark attack in New Zealand was in 2013.
Filmmaker Adam Strange, 46, was dragged out to sea and killed off Muriwai beach, also close to Auckland, in what is believed to have been the first fatal attack since 1976.
According to the New Zealand Herald, a massive great white shark was spotted by people on a boat near Waihī Beach in 2019.
That July, a two metre-long shark also washed up dead at Waihī Beach.
Helen Clark, the nation’s former Prime Minister, sent her condolences to the woman’s loved-ones on Twitter.
She wrote: “Tragedy has struck our community at Waihī Beach where a woman died in a shark attack late this afternoon.
“Deepest condolences to family and friends; this is devastating news.
“Solidarity with local emergency services in attendance.”
The death has been referred to the coroner.