An Austrian scuba diver who went missing off the coast of South Africa was killed by a shark, according to sea rescuers.

The 68-year-old man, who has yet to be formally identified, was diving with a group in Protea Banks in Durban, in the east of the country.

The National Sea Rescue Institute revealed he was with a charter who went out into the water at around 1.45pm on Wednesday, the Daily Mail reports.

His fellow divers said that he disappeared as the rest of the group made their way to the surface.

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An NSRI spokesman said: "According to fellow divers on a charter scuba dive they had been surfacing when the man had disappeared.

"During the search' the remains of the body of the man' believed to have been bitten by a shark' were located by crew of a private fishing boat.

"The remains of the body were recovered from the water onto a sea rescue craft and brought to shore.

"NSRI Convey sincerest condolences to the family of a 68 year old Austrian man who died yesterday at Protea Banks, South Coast Kwa-Zulu Natal."

Initially, the NSRI said the man was German but they today revealed that he was in fact Austrian and thanked both the Austrian and German Consulates who assisted.

Protea Banks is a reef just 6.4km off the South African coast and attracts thousands of scuba divers each year.

Diving enthusiasts typically travel to the area because of the large number of tiger and bull sharks which live there.