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Surfer critically injured by shark off Australian town where Japanese tourist died in February

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SYDNEY — A 32-year-old surfer was critically injured by a shark on Thursday at the same Australian coastal town where a Japanese tourist was killed in February, police said.

The local man was surfing with two friends at Light House Beach in Ballina, a tourist town 600 kilometers (350 miles) north of Sydney, when he was bitten by a shark, "suffering significant injuries to his lower legs," a police statement said.

Friends of the victim, whose name has not been released, helped him to shore before he was flown by helicopter 100 kilometers (60 miles) north to Gold Coast Hospital, police said.

Police have released no details about the shark.

Japanese tourist Tadashi Nakahara, 41, was surfing just north of Light House Beach at Shelly Beach in February when police said a great white shark 3 to 4 meters (10 to 13 feet) long tore off both his legs.

In 2008, Peter Edmonds, 16, died of blood loss on Lighthouse Beach after a shark mauled his leg as he surfed with a friend.

All beaches in the Ballina area have been closed for 24 hours after Thursday's attack, police said.

Sharks are common off Australia's beaches, but fatal attacks are rare. The country has averaged fewer than two deadly attacks per year in recent decades.

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