A man has died after being attacked by a shark off Byron Bay, in Australia, according to reports. Police confirmed in a statement that the victim, who was in his 40s, was "bitten on the right leg by what is believed to be a shark".

"He was seen floating in shallow water, close to the shore line, and dragged on to the beach," the statement said.

Police have yet to identify the man or establish what he had been doing in the water. Byron Bay is a renowned surfing location near Cape Byron, the most easterly point of the Australian mainland 500 miles (800km) north of Sydney.

The death is the first blamed on a shark in Australia since April 3 when a 63-year-old woman was taken killed near the village of Tathra, 210 miles (340km) south of Sydney.

Although sharks are common off Australia's coast, the country has averaged fewer than two fatal attacks per year in recent decades.

But fatal attacks are becoming more common. Two men were killed in shark attacks off the east and west coasts in the space of a week in November last year.

They were the only fatalities in 2013.

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