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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 20) - Quick thinking by several surfers and intervention by a foreign nurse saved the life of a national surfing representative after a shark attacked him in Fiji on Saturday evening.

Paul Chong Sue of Kulukulu in Sigatoka was out training with friends close to the Sigatoka River mouth when the shark attack took place.

[PIR editor’s note: Sigatoka is located on the southwest coast of Fiji’s Viti Levu island.]

The 21-year-old was trying to paddle out for a wave when the shark attacked him from beneath his surfboard. Fellow surfer, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu said Chong Sue was still paddling out to catch a wave when the shark bit his arm at about 6 p.m.

"The shark came from below his board and bit his right arm," he said.

"It tried to pull him under but Paul fought back and managed to free his arm from the sharks grip," said Naiqama.

Naiqama said after he pulled his arm free, he called out to the other surfers for help. Naiqama said as soon as the surfers heard his call for help, everyone rushed to his aid.

"There were about 15 of us out at sea with him. We all surrounded him and started making our way back to the beach," he said.

"After the attack, the shark kept circling the area. Even though we thought that it was going to strike again, we did not pay much attention because we were rushing to get Paul onto the beach," Naiqama said.

He said fortunately, a nurse from Australia was also at the river mouth surfing and she helped us treat the wound before we took him to the Sigatoka Hospital. Chong Sue was admitted at the Sigatoka Hospital before being transferred to the Lautoka Hospital for further examination.

When The Fiji Times visited the Lautoka Hospital yesterday, Chong Sue was undergoing surgery.

Naiqama said even though doctors reassured them that everything would be all right they were anxious to see him after the surgery. A relative who did not wish to be named said Chong Sue was finding it difficult to use his arm.

He said they would only find out whether Chong Sue would be able to surf again after surgery.

March 21, 2006

Fiji Times Online: .

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