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Woman killed by shark off popular Australian east coast beach

SYDNEY -- A large shark killed a woman near her terrified husband and friends as they took their daily morning swim Thursday off a popular Australian east coast beach, police said.

Christine Armstrong, 63, was taken by the shark as she attempted to swim the 600 meters between the wharf and beach near the village of Tathra, 340 kilometers south of Sydney, police said.

The victim was some distance from the other five swimmers, including her husband, Rob Armstrong, when they saw a 3-to-4-meter shark nearby, said Police Inspector Jason Edmunds.

“The group joined up together and did their best to keep the shark at bay, although it didn't directly attack them,” Edmunds told Nine Network television.

The swimmers did not see the attack, but a witness onshore did. Edmunds said the species of the shark was unknown.

The Tathra Wharf to Waves — a swim off a rocky coastline from the wharf to the beach and back again — is an annual event that attracts hundreds of swimmers each summer.

Local council general manager Leanne Barnes said locals meet at the beach every morning to swim out to the wharf and back.

“It's a beautiful little coastal village and this is one of those sad things that can happen,” Barnes said.

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