Jun 23, 2005 ~ Shark kills Kiwi girl in Vanuatu:
A Coromandel family's winter holiday has ended with a seven-year-old girl being killed by a shark.
Alysha Webster was swimming just metres from a beach on the island of Malekula in Vanuatu
when she was attacked.
Arrangements are being made for the return of her body to a shocked community near Whitianga.
were swimming with locals in a bay near Norsup when the shark attacked, killing Alysha Webster.
High Commissioner to Vanuatu Paul Willis says the family
were close by when the attack happened.
"They would be obviously quite shocked and traumatised by what they saw. In any circumstance like that it would be a horrible event to witness"
They had sailed their yacht to Vanuatu from the marina in Whitianga, near to where they live in the Coromandel community of Whenuakite.
Keith Morcom, who part-owns the yacht with the Websters, says the news knocked the feet from under him.
"The family have been friends for about 30 years and we've raced and sailed together all of that time, so we've got to know each other in boating
a lot," says Morcom.
Principle Jamie Marsden says trauma counsellors have been helping Alysha's friends.
"There have been sad moments, there's lots of sharing and Alysha's room is coping really well. They're having the times when they need them to have a cry, to write things down, to put little cards on the desk," says Marsden.
Alysha is described as a typical seven-year-old. "Full of life, full of personality, a determined little girl. She loved school
, she loved swimming," says Marsden.
Meanwhile, the Vanuatu community has been left wondering how safe their waters are.
"There are lots of sharks in the waters of Vanuatu; tiger sharks, hammerheads, reef sharks... From what we know, there aren't a lot of deaths. I mean, the local people exercise caution, they know where it is safe to swim," says Willis.
The high commissioner is now helping the family make plans for their return to New Zealand
Jun 24, 2005 ~ Community mourns shark attack victim
The death of a young New Zealand girl killed by a shark has shocked the small rural community of Whenuakite.
Seven-year-old Alysha Webster died when a shark attacked her as she swam near a small island off Malekula Island in northern Vanuatu on Wednesday. She was on a yachting holiday with her family.
The Vanuatu Daily Post reported her left leg was bitten off. She was rushed to Norsup hospital but had lost
too much blood and could not be revived.
New Zealand high commissioner Paul Willis said the attack was so severe that Alysha would have died quickly. The commission will help fly the family home.
The news has stunned the Whitianga community of Whenuakite where the Websters live. A neighbour of the family, Keith Morcom, said the entire community is very upset by the death and want to help. Morcom said the community is preparing to support her family when they bring her body home.
Shark expert Clinton Duffy said tourists need to take precautions to minimise the chance of shark attacks in the tropics. Duffy said sharks are common in tropical waters and hone in on pale flesh.
But he said even in the tropics, fatal attacks are very rare. He advises swimmers should avoid wearing bright clothing or shiny objects that sharks may mistake for small fish and not swim at night.