Monster waves keep California lifeguards busy

Los Angeles - Surf is up in California, where lifeguards are making dozens of rescues as daredevils brave the biggest waves to hit the surf-crazy western US state in years.

One surfer died this week, after being found unconscious in the waves off Malibu, as thousands turned out to take to their boards in waves up to 7 meters heigh, or enjoy the show from the comfort of the beaches.

"Surf this large will have the potential to cause structural damage and significant beach erosion," the National Weather Service (NWS) said on Wednesday, while forecasters say a high surf advisory will remain in force until Friday.

The huge swell, which also closed the Malibu pier due to damage to one of its structural piles, is fuelled by the distant Hurricane Marie out in the Pacific.

The fatality occurred on Tuesday, when a surfer was found floating in the water unconscious as huge waves were reported. He was taken to hospital and pronounced dead.

It is the biggest southerly swell since July 1996, the NWS said, adding: "There is a potential for damaging and life-threatening surf across south- and southeast-facing of Los Angeles and Ventura counties" to the north.