Shark bites 2 British men on Australia's Great Barrier Reef

A British tourist had his foot bitten off by a shark while another man suffered serious injuries to his lower leg after a shark attack in the Whitsundays region of north Queensland.

"Queensland Ambulance Service have advised that both people are in a serious but stable condition, with non life-threatening injuries".

There have been numerous shark attacks in the Whitsunday island group in recent years, including a fatal incident at Cid Harbour involving a 33-year-old man last November.

They are now being taken to Mackay Hospital by the RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter.

A spokesperson for the tour company the men were traveling with, ZigZag Whitsundays, said in a statement: "We are working with authorities to assist in any way we can".

The incident took place near Airlie Beach in the state of Queensland on Tuesday when the young tourists were snorkelling.

One of them, a 28-year-old English man, has had his foot bitten off while the other, a 22-year-old, has "serious lacerations to his lower leg", authorities said.

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Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters she has yet to have details but her thoughts were with the men.

'I don't know if they were diving.

My main concern today is for the welfare of these two people that have been injured by what appears to be a shark attack.

In the past year, there have been several reported shark attacks in waters around the Whitsunday Islands, which had been considered safe for swimming.

After one of the attacks in 2018, the state government conducted a shark bait operation in which six sharks were hooked and killed within a week.

The coastal town is a popular stop-off for visitors to the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef.

That incident followed separate attacks within 24 hours in September - also at Cid Harbour - on Tasmanian woman Justine Barwick and Victorian 12-year-old Hannah Papps.

  • Sonia Alvarado