Hundreds of people have paid tribute to 13-year-old boy Elio Canestri who was killed by a shark off the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean.

The boy was said to be surfing in reportedly off-limits waters in Lobster Cape, west of the island when he was savaged by the shark.

Witnesses watched in horror as the boy was flung around the water after 9am yesterday, (12 April). The shark tore off his arms, legs and stomach before dragging him out to sea. He later died from his injuries.

He is the seventh person who has died from a shark attack off the island since 2011. There have been 16 shark attacks in total during this time.

Hundreds of people gathered on Les Aigrettes beach to pay their respects to Canestri who was said to be an 'up and coming surfer'.

Jeremy Flores, a French surfer, who won the Billabong Pipeline Masters in 2010, posted on his Instagram yesterday: "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 :( "

"A boat was launched very quickly, and the victim was dragged out of the sea, but he died from his wounds," said a rescue services spokesman. "Those who witnessed the attack, including other children, are being treated for trauma."

In February, a 20-year-old woman died after she was bitten in the leg by a shark off the beach of l'Etang-Sale on the island. She managed to swim to shore but later died in hospital from cardiac arrest in hospital.

Elio Canestri
Several hundreds of people are gathered, on April 12, 2015 on the beach in Les Aigrettes, on the western coast of the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion. Getty