Teenage surfer Elio Canestri was killed by a shark Sunday while surfing off the island of Reunion, an island rescue services spokesman told NBC News.
The 13-year-old was surfing with seven others off the coast of the small island, which lies in the Indian Ocean, just east of Madagascar. The Daily Mail reports that Canestri was surfing about 50 feet from land, in an area banned to swimmers due to the risk of shark attacks.
According to NBC News, the shark sunk his teeth into Canestri's stomach and flung the teen around the water.
"A boat was launched very quickly, and the victim was dragged out of the sea, but he died from his wounds," the spokesman said, declining to give his name due to company policy. "Those who witnessed the attack, including other children, are being treated for trauma."
There have been 16 shark attacks, seven of them fatal, in the waters of Reunion over the past four years, according to the Daily Mail.
French surfer Jeremy Flores, who grew up on Reunion, reportedly led tributes to Canestri attended by thousands of mourners. In an Instagram post, Flores called the teenager, "one of our best up and coming surfer (sic)" and said "Words can't describe how sad and angry i am."
ANOTHER shark attack in Reunion island this morning. 13 years old Elio was one of our best up and coming surfer. Words can't describe how sad and angry i am. So young !!! Heart breaking News . RIP :( Petit Elio, 13 ans, a été attaqué par un requin ce matin au spot des "zaigrettes". Il était un de nos meilleurs jeune espoir. Il avait toute la vie devant lui. J'ai la haine. Quelle tristesse... Repose en paix marmaille :(
- Alex Putterman