23 June 2005

Young girl killed by shark in Vanuatu

A young New Zealand girl has been killed by a shark in Vanuatu while on a family yachting vacation in the South Pacific nation, officials in New Zealand said on Thursday.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said seven-year-old Alysha Margaret Webster was killed while swimming off a beach on Malekula Island in northern Vanuatu on Wednesday afternoon.

Alysha was on a yachting vacation with her parents Grant and Sheree Webster, who come from Whitianga on New Zealand's North Island, the ministry said in a statement.

New Zealand High Commissioner in Vanuatu's capital, Port Vila, Paul Willis, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that the attack "is a very real tragedy" and the "family are very distressed."

He said the family had sailed their yacht from Port Vila to Malekula and were swimming at a beach with other people, including local residents, when the shark attacked.

Willis said he believed the girl died quickly as a result of the attack.

The mission had sent a small plane to ferry the family and the child's body back to Port Vila and they were expected to arrive there later Thursday, he said.

Source: www.news24.com


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