A promising young surfer has been dragged out to sea during a shark attack in front of traumatised witnesses.
Thirteen-year-old champion surfer Elio Canestri was brutally bitten and lost limbs in the “horrific” attack, which occurred just before 9am off La Reunion Island in the French Indian Ocean.
The shark attacked Elio from below before he was dragged out to sea, UK paper The Mirror reports, sparking an immediate rescue attempt.
“A boat was launched very quickly, and the victim was dragged out of the sea, but he died from his wounds,” a rescue services spokesman said.
He said witnesses were being treated for trauma.
“It is horrific. The boy was always smiling and happy – everybody knew him,” a witness told local radio.
Reunion, a French territory in the Indian Ocean to the east of Madagascar, has been the site of 16 shark attacks and seven deaths since 2011, the paper reports.
Tributes flowed for Elio, a Pipeline Masters 2010 winner. Jeremy Flores took to Instagram to lament the spate of shark attacks.
“ANOTHER shark attack in Reunion island this morning,” he wrote.
“Elio was one of our best up and coming surfers. Words can’t describe how sad and angry i am. So young !!! Heart breaking News . RIP :(”
ANOTHER shark attack in Reunion island this morning. 13 years old Elio was one of our best up and coming surfer. Words can’t describe how sad and angry i am. So young !!! Heart breaking News . RIP 🙁 Petit Elio, 13 ans, a été attaqué par un requin ce matin au spot des “zaigrettes”. Il était un de nos meilleurs jeune espoir. Il avait toute la vie devant lui. J’ai la haine. Quelle tristesse… Repose en paix marmaille 🙁
A photo posted by Jeremy Flores (@floresjeremy) on