3 Feb 2006

Shark kills US Peace Corps worker in Tonga

7:50 am on 3 February 2006

Reports from Tonga say a US Peace Corps Volunteer died in Vava'u on Wednesday after losing a leg in a shark attack in the water off the village of Tu'anuku.

Tessa Horan was 24 years old from New Mexico, and was part of a new group of volunteers to arrive in Tonga, and she had just settled in to Tu'anuku on the 18th of January.

The Neiafu Police Commander, Pesalili Kailahi, said Ms Horan and a Tongan youth swam out into the deep water to cool off after a game of soccer.

When they stopped for a breath she was pulled down.

Her companion noticed the submerging fin of a big fish, which he thought to be a shark.

They swam back screaming for help, but Ms Horan died soon after they got ashore.

Mr Kailahi said that the attack took Ms Horan's right leg from the thigh down.

Fatal shark attacks are rare in Tonga.

Tessa Horan's body was flown back to the capital Nuku'alofa yesterday, and received by mourning Peace Corps volunteers.