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Shark seriously injures surfer as spate of attacks continues off Australia's east coast

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SYDNEY — A shark seriously injured a surfer Saturday as a spate of attacks continued on Australia's central east coast.

The 38-year-old man suffered life-threatening injuries while surfing late afternoon with a friend at Port Macquarie, 320 kilometers (200 miles) north of Sydney, a police statement said.

He was taken to the local hospital and was expected to be flown to Sydney, police said.

Three weeks ago, a 52-year-old surfer was seriously injured as he repeatedly punched a shark that mauled him off Evans Head, 230 kilometers (140 miles) north of Port Macquarie.

Authorities are concerned since the attack was the 11th in five months along a 20-kilometer (12-mile) stretch of northern New South Wales state coast around the tourist town of Ballina, where a 41-year-old Japanese tourist was killed on Feb. 9.

The only fatal attack in Australia since then was last month when a 46-year-old diver was killed off the island state of Tasmania, 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) south of Ballina.

Few Australians surf during the current southern hemisphere winter, but surfer numbers have dwindled further off New South Wales due to recent shark attacks.

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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