Woman left with 'chunk of leg missing' after being attacked by shark on Californian beach

Chloe Chaplain
Attack: A sign warns beach goers at San Onofre State Beach after a woman was attacked by a shark in the area: AP

A woman was left with a chunk of her leg “missing” after she was attacked by a shark on a beach in California.

The shark struck as the woman waded in the ocean with friends at the popular San Onofre State Beach in northern San Diego on Sunday.

Witnesses, who dragged her out of the water, said the animal had torn away part of her upper thigh.

"All of the back of her leg was kind of missing," Thomas Williams, one of several witnesses, told the Orange County Register.

"If she didn't receive immediate care, it was life-threatening."

Attack: The woman is believed to have been attacked by a great white (pictured) or a seven-gill (Robert Snow/OCEARCH/AP)

Mr Williams said the woman was conscious and talking while onlookers used a rubber surfboard leash as a form of bandage to stop the bleeding.

"She was not calm, of course," he said. "But she was coherent."

A marine at the Camp Pendleton Marine Base – next to the beach – confirmed a victim had been airlifted to a hospital in unknown condition.

The injury is believed to have been caused by a great white or a seven-gill shark. Several have been sighted in the area recently.

Nearly a year ago, a woman was bitten by a shark while swimming off Corona del Mar, about 25 miles to the north of Sunday’s attack.

Experts estimated the shark was at least 10 feet in length, judging from the bite marks, which spanned her chest, hip and shoulder.

The beach was expected to remain closed until Monday.

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