2 youths hurt in shark attacks on North Carolina coast

OAK ISLAND, N.C. (AP) - Two teenagers are recovering from separate shark attacks at a North Carolina beach after surgery.

Both victims were about 20 yards off shore in waist deep water when the shark attacks happened.

The first attack involving a 12-year-old girl occurred shortly after 4 p.m. Sunday in Oak Island, about 25 miles southwest of Wilmington, near the Ocean Crest Pier.

She had injuries on the upper and lower part of her left arm. Mayor Betty Wallace says the girl lost part of her arm and also suffered a leg injury. 

The second attack involving a 16-year-old boy was reported less than two hours later about two miles down the beach. He had a serious injury on his left arm. Wallace said the teen lost his left arm.

The teenager estimated the shark was about 6-8 feet long. Oak Island officials say they can't confirm the size of the shark, nor do they know if the same shark was involved in both attacks.

Both young people went to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. They have since both had surgery, and are in stable condition. New Hanover Regional Medical Center told local media outlets the youngsters were in fair condition after surgery.

The local EMS Director said both teens have a long road ahead to recovery. He said one of the reasons both teenagers will likely survive is because bystanders on the beach were able to perform first aid as soon as they got out of the water. The 911 center helped bystanders stop bleeding as they waited for first responders.

An ATV was sent in to evacuate everyone out of the water. A helicopter patrolled the coast.

Wallace didn't immediately respond to messages early Monday seeking details.

Town manager Tim Holloman said the beaches were open Monday. 

After the attacks, responding crews found two different sharks, each about 7 feet long, in the water. They're not sure what kind of shark they spotted.

The Shark Research Institute contacted the town of Oak Island to work on ways to prevent more shark attacks. Town officials say sharks are commonly found off the North Carolina coast, but attacks are not normal for the area.

They advise people who use the open beaches today to pay attention to fish swimming patterns, as it could be a sign that a shark is in the nearby water.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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