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Monday, November 1, 2010

A swimmer saved a young woman who was attacked by a shark, off the coast of western Australia, by grabbing it by the tail, rescuers have said.

The shark, which had bitten 19-year-old Elyse Frankcom, let go of her, they added.

The anonymous swimmer then brought Ms Frankcom to the surface and got her on board a boat.

She is said to be in a stable condition after undergoing six hours of surgery in hospital.

A Great White Shark

One of the first rescuers on the scene, Fremantle Sea Rescue senior skipper Frank Pisani, said of the swimmer: "He certainly was instrumental in making this a good outcome."

The shark attacked on Saturday as Ms Frankcom led a group of tourists on a swim with dolphins from a boat sailing off Garden Island, about 50km (30 miles) from Perth.

The 3m-long shark, which has not been definitively identified but is believed to be a Great White, came up from the bottom of the water and bit her.

Mr Pisani said: "As the shark bit her, it brushed aside a fairly large male who grabbed hold of the tail of the shark, which then made it let go.

"The girl then started to sink to the bottom and he grabbed her and brought her to the surface and got her back on board the boat."

BBC video grab via Reuters from Network Nine

Elyse Franckom said she was doing what she loved

He said Ms Frankcom apparently had bites on both thighs. She was flown to hospital by helicopter.

Shark's tooth removed

The man, who was taking part in the swim, refused to speak to journalists when the tour boat returned to dock, other than to say: "No comment, thank you. It's cool. All I want is the girl to be OK."

More than 30 people, including several children, were on board the boat at the time of the attack.

Ms Frankcom was working for Rockingham Wild Encounters, which organises boat and swimming trips, from a town south of Perth.

Terry Houston, from the company, said: "They pulled a shark tooth out of her butt, so Elyse is pretty proud of that. She's got that as a bit of a memento."

She had recently posted a message on her Facebook page saying: "If I get attacked or die, at least I die happy and doing the thing I love."

Sharks are a common feature of Australian waters but, according to the Australian Shark Attack File, attacks are rare with only 53 fatalities in the last half-century.

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