The 12 year old victim of the first shark attack lies prone on the beach as she is tended to by bystanders. Photo: Screenshot

Shark attacks are not exactly common anywhere (there are on average about 60 each year worldwide) and are even less so in North Carolina.

The state has only seen 25 attacks in the last decade, none of them fatal.

So locals were left shocked and traumatised when two teenagers were attacked on the same beach on the same day this weekend.

"It looks like her entire hand is gone," said the woman who called 911.

First a 12-year-old girl was attacked in waist deep water just off shore. "It looks like her entire hand is gone," the woman who called 911 told the dispatcher.

“It was quite terrible," Steve Bouser, who was just beginning a week-long beach holiday, told the Associated Press.

“I saw someone carry this girl [out of the water] and people were swarming around and trying to help."

“It was so much like a scene from Jaws," his wife added.

Only a few hours later a 16-year-old boy was attacked. "It bit a man's arm off," said the frantic woman who alerted emergency services.

The girl's left arm was amputated below the elbow, according to hospital authorities and her lower left leg sustained tissue damage. The boy's left arm meanwhile was severed below the shoulder.

Authorities haven't released the names of either of the victims, but both were out of surgery and in a stable condition as of last night, despite their "life-threatening" injuries.

A marine biologist from the local Coastal Carolina University told NBC news that the victims were probably attacked by the same shark, although a pair of sharks was apparently spotted from a helicopter in the area.

Despite the attacks, the risk was considered low enough to re-open the beach on Tuesday.

Our thoughts are with the victims of the attacks and their families.