A New York financier has been killed in a shark attack while scuba diving off the coast of Costa Rica, the country’s Environment Ministry announced.
Rohina Bhandari, 49, a senior director at WL Ross & Co. LL, was identified by friends as the American tourist who was fatally attacked last Thursday.
She was dragged from the Pacific Ocean after sustaining severe bites to her legs but could not be saved. Her 26-year-old diving instructor was also badly injured.
The male instructor, who was conscious and in relatively stable condition, told officials that the shark attacked when his group was surfacing at the tail end of the dive in pristine waters close to Cocos Island, about 300 miles from the country’s mainland.
According to the Costa Rican newspaper La Nacion, the guide noticed the shark approaching his group underwater and tried to scare it away.
But as they surfaced, the shark went for Ms Bhandari, tearing at her legs. Tiger sharks, which have dark stripes on their body when young, are predators often found around Pacific islands. Unlike many other species of shark, they can be aggressive and account for a large proportion of attacks on humans.
Authorities said two park rangers and several doctors who were part of the diving tourism group of 18 people on the island trip organised by Undersea Hunter Group, offered first aid in a desperate bid to save her.
The group regularly organises tours to the national park reportedly known for its abundance of sharks.
Alan Steenstrup, the tour company’s sales manager, said they were “in shock” because of the incident and added they were now focusing on working with the victim’s family and the authorities.
Friends paid tribute to the Manhattan resident on Facebook.
“Unbelievably sad and heartbreaking news that Rohina has died,” wrote Julie Walker. “She was such a wonderful person who loved life. I will always remember her kindness, friendship and our adventures together.”
Another unnamed friend wrote: “Your kindness and genuine warmth to those of us lucky enough to call you ‘friend’ was a blessing to behold.”
About | Shark attacks
The environment ministry stressed the attack was “an isolated incident” and was the most serious one it had seen. The Central American country’s economy relies heavily on the tourism industry.