Kent

Shark attack mum Frankie Gonsalves to be airlifted to UK

Frankie Gonsalves with husband Dean Image copyright Gonsalves Family
Image caption Frankie Gonsalves was with her husband Dean and two children when the shark attacked

A woman attacked by a shark in the South Atlantic is to be airlifted to a London hospital on Wednesday, her father has said.

Social worker Frankie Gonsalves was swimming with her husband Dean and two children off Ascension Island, when the shark bit her foot and leg.

Mr Gonsalves punched the shark on the nose to free his wife, who managed to scramble back to shore.

Doctors have said she will not lose her leg, but does need urgent trauma care.

Louis, seven, and Katie, 10, were playing just metres away in the shallows of the bay when their mother was mauled.

Mrs Gonsalves' father, Irving Benjamin, from Deal, said: "Thank God it wasn't the kids.

"Louis weighs the square root of nothing, if the shark had attacked him, he would have been gone.

"When Dean called he made every effort to reassure us she was alive and ok, but your first thought when you hear shark attack is 'oh my God, I'm about to lose my daughter'.

"When I asked about him he said he was fine, just had some bruised knuckles from punching the shark in the nose. He said 'who'd have thought how hard a shark's nose is?'."

Image copyright Gonsalves Family
Image caption Mrs Gonsalves has worked as a children's social worker in St Helena for two years

The family has been speaking to Mrs Gonsalves every day since the attack on Friday.

She is the only patient in the island's tiny hospital and will be flown to St Mary's Hospital in London for specialist trauma care on Wednesday.

Mrs Gonsalves has worked as a children's social worker in St Helena for two years.

Originally from Letchworth Garden City, they were en route to the UK to visit family and had stopped off at Ascension Island at the time of the attack.

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