CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A diver who was mauled by a 4-meter (13-foot) bull shark near the Great Barrier Reef was flown in stable condition to an Australian hospital for microsurgery to an arm, a paramedic said Sunday.
The 55-year-old man had been free diving with friends in the Torres Strait from a boat chartered from the Queensland state city of Cairns when the shark attacked on Saturday afternoon, paramedic David Cameron said. Free diving uses no breath apparatus.
The man was 15 meters (50 feet) under water with other divers when the shark attacked, Cameron said.
"The bull shark has come up from behind and has unfortunately bitten the patient on the arm several times and bitten him on the stomach," Cameron said, adding the most severe injuries were to his left arm.
"When you start to talk about 4-meter (13-foot) sharks up here in the Torres Strait, he's very lucky to walk away," Cameron said.
The man swam back to the boat, which then took three hours to reach the nearest medical center on Murray Island, about midway between Australia and Papua New Guinea, Cameron said.
An attempt to winch him from the boat by rescue helicopter was abandoned due to torrential rain, Cameron said.
The man was flown during a break in the weather from Murray Island 210 kilometers (130 miles) west to the Thursday Island Hospital north of Queensland, where he spent the night. On Sunday, he was again flown 800 kilometers (500 miles) to Cairns for microsurgery, Cameron said.
Cameron said the man was an experienced diver who been attacked by a shark before.