A British man was left fighting for his life in hospital after one of his legs was bitten off in a shark attack near Cape Town.

Michael Cohen was swimming at Fish Hoek Beach – a beach recently closed due to shark sightings – when the attack took place.

The 42 year old lost his right leg and part of his left foot yesterday afternoon when the great white shark attacked.

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Three sharks had reportedly been sighted in the water 90 minutes before Cohen entered the water.

He is believed to have been the only person swimming at the time.

“It appears [the victim] was rescued from the water by a bystander who left the scene before we could identify him,” National Sea Rescue Institute spokesman Craig Lambinon told the South African Press Association.

“The man was conscious when paramedics attended to him on the beach, but was sedated on-scene by paramedics in their efforts to stabilise the patient.”

A Zimbabwean man was killed by a shark at Fish Hoek beach earlier this year.