Authorities said today they would kill the shark that tore apart a surfer near a popular south Australian beach as his friends reportedly tried to save him by beating the animal...

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SYDNEY, Australia — Authorities said today they would kill the shark that tore apart a surfer near a popular south Australian beach as his friends reportedly tried to save him by beating the animal with oars.

The South Australia state government’s acting leader Kevin Foley said a single 16-foot great white shark was believed responsible for the attack on Nick Peterson, 18. Earlier, authorities said they thought two sharks were involved.

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Although great whites are a protected species, Foley said the government would destroy the shark because it was a threat to swimmers.

“The government’s position is quite clear,” Foley said. “Any large shark, in close proximity to the beaches of our state, particularly the city of Adelaide, should be destroyed.”

Rescuers found what they believed to be human remains today in waters close to where Peterson was killed, South Australia’s Sea Rescue Squadron spokesman Fraser Bell said.

The man was attacked after he fell from his surfboard while it was being towed behind a motorboat yesterday at West Beach, close to Adelaide. His friends pounded the shark with oars in an attempt to make it release Peterson, The Australian newspaper reported, citing witnesses.

The shark ripped the young man apart, Bell said.

Two 16-year-old boys who witnessed the attack were being treated for shock.

Despite the attack, West Beach was not closed, though police warned swimmers to stay within limits patrolled by lifeguards.

Several people visited the beach early today, media reported, but few ventured into the water despite warm weather and calm seas perfect for swimming. Some of Peterson’s friends held hands as they walked across the sand.

It was the third recent fatal shark attack in Australian waters.

A 38-year-old man was killed by a shark while spearing fish on the Great Barrier Reef off northeast Australia on Saturday.

And two sharks attacked and killed a 29-year-old surfer off the Australian west coast in July. Experts said at the time that sharks were not known to hunt in pairs.

A shark expert at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, John West, said attacks did not appear to be on the rise.

He said it was uncommon for the victim to be eaten.

“Being killed and then eaten by a shark is not common at all. Most shark attacks relate to a single bite … ,” West told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.