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Shark bites teenage surfer along Hawaii's Big Island

By Steve Gorman

(Reuters) - A 16-year-old boy surfing along the eastern shore of Hawaii's Big Island was bitten in the legs by a shark over the weekend in the second such attack in the state in less than a week, authorities said on Monday.

The boy was flown by helicopter on Sunday to the Hilo Medical Center, in the island's largest city, and was listed in satisfactory condition on Sunday night, said William Aila, chairman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Beaches along the Pohoiki coastline were closed to the public after the incident as a precaution, he said. Earlier on Sunday, Hapuna Beach on the northwestern end of the Big Island was shut down after lifeguards there spotted a shark, but that area has since been reopened, Aila said.

Aila said the teenage victim, who was bitten across both legs, was in the water at one of the few areas along the rocky Pohoiki coast that are suitable for surfing. He said details of the attack, including the type of shark involved, were sketchy.

Hawaiian television station KHON-TV reported that the boy was attacked from behind or the side by an 8-foot, gray-colored shark while surfing at a spot called Dead Trees in Pohoiki Bay, and was pulled to shore by other people.

"He was coming down the waves, and the shark came from the side and took him out by the legs," one witness, another teenage boy who said he was nearby in the water, told KHON. His name was not given.

Lifeguard Nohea Matsuoka said the victim suffered "two big lacerations to his buttocks and his thigh."

Authorities will survey the Pohoiki area, "and if there are no signs of the shark, it will be reopened, possibly today," Aila said.

Aila said the incident marks the ninth shark attack on a person in Hawaiian waters this year. Last Wednesday, a 20-year-old woman from Germany had her arm bitten off by a shark while snorkeling in Maui, he said.

KHON said another surfer was attacked by a shark on Oahu on July 29, and a woman was bitten in the abdomen while swimming on Maui the following day.

Aila said Hawaii typically documents five or six close encounters between people and sharks every year, including bites or cases in which a shark may actually bump into or brush up against someone.

Fatal attacks in Hawaii are rare, the last one occurring several years ago, he said.

(Editing by Alden Bentley)

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