updated 9/4/2011 10:07:11 AM ET 2011-09-04T14:07:11

A shark bit the legs off a bodyboarder at a popular surfing spot in western Australia on Sunday, killing the man, police said. Authorities were searching for the shark as well as the man's missing limbs.

The man in his early 20s was bodyboarding with five friends when the shark attacked, a police spokesman said.

He died at the scene in the surfing haven known as The Farm, off Bunker Bay near the western town of Dunsborough. The beach was closed after the attack.

About 30 surfers were in the water when the shark attacked, according to a beachside cafe employee, Deb Pickett, who called police and an ambulance after hearing the disturbance.

"We had some sharks spotted far out at sea a few months ago, but they never come this close to the shore," Pickett said.

She said helicopters were still searching the area for the shark late Sunday, while rescue staff searched for the man's limbs, which she believed had been taken by the shark.

Local official Ian Stubbs said it was the first shark attack in the area in more than 20 years.

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Video: Vicious shark attack kills Australian bodyboarder

  1. Transcript of: Vicious shark attack kills Australian bodyboarder

    CRAIG MELVIN, anchor: The authorities are looking for a killer shark after a vicious attack on a body boarder at a popular surfing spot in western Australian . NBC 's Michelle

    Kosinksi has more this morning. Michelle: Hi, Craig. Another terrible shark attack, this one in Australia . And the shark bit the 21-year-old victim in half. There was no way he could have survived. Now officials want to find that shark , possibly a 15-foot-long great white. The western Australia beach of Bunker Bay is considered ideal, perfect for surfing most days. Not this day.

    MICHELLE KOSINSKI reporting: There were a few unsettled people around. There was a girl in particular who had brought her feet up on her surfboard and said there's something in the water .

    Mr. KYLE SMITH (Witness): That something was a large shark , possibly a great white, in the water with all the surfers and swimmers. Among them, 21-year-old Australian Kyle Burden , body boarding with a group of friends. The attack was quick and deadly.

    KOSINSKI: There's nothing you could do. It was probably like a five second thing. Five seconds of fighting and then he was under straight away.

    Mr. DAN FRANCESCO (Witness): They are amongst people all the time, yet virtually in every single instance they tend to leave people alone. They're really not about feeding on us. The problem for the white shark , however, from a human perceptive, is we're killing their natural food source.

    Mr. CHRIS FELLOWS (Shark Expert): Kyle 's friend found him afterward but the lower half of his body was gone. There was no way to save him.

    KOSINSKI: When I turned back around he was on the other side of me so the shark had pulled him underneath me.

    Mr. FRANCESCO: Some in that area say that the conditions were almost perfect for a shark attack . It was overcast, very dim light, and there were seals in the area. The shark experts say in shark feeding areas like this one, sometimes they can mistake humans for prey. Craig :

    KOSINSKI: Michelle Kosinksi from London for us this morning. Michelle , thank you.



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