An American financier has been killed in a shark attack while scuba diving off the coast of Costa Rica.

49-year-old Rohina Bhandari, a senior director at WL Ross & Co. LL, has been identified as the American tourist who was attacked by a tiger shark on Thursday (30 November).

Bhandari was diving with a group of tourists. She was attacked when the group surfaced at the end of the dive near Cocos Island.

Her 26-year-old diving instructor was also badly injured in the attack. The instructor, who is in a stable condition, told Costa Rican newspaper La Nacion that he had tried to scare the shark away when he spotted it underwater.

He said that the shark launched itself at Bhandari and started tearing at her legs when she surfaced.

Rohina Bhandari
Financier Rohina Bhandari was killed in a shark attack in Costa Rica on 30 November. Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

The New York businesswoman was pulled from the water, but her injuries were too severe and she could not be saved.

Unlike many other species of sharks, tiger sharks can often behave aggressively towards humans and are estimated to attack around 80 people each year.

Alan Steenstrup of tour company Undersea Hunter Group said he was "in shock" following the attack. He said his company was focusing on offering support to Bhandari's family and the local authorities.

Costa Rica's environment ministry stressed that this was "an isolated incident" and the most severe attack it had seen.

Friends paid tribute to Bhandari on social media. "Unbelievably sad and heartbreaking news that Rohina has died," her friend Julie Walker wrote. "She was such a wonderful person who loved life. I will always remember her kindness, friendship and our adventures together."

"Your kindness and genuine warmth to those of us lucky enough to call you 'friend' was a blessing to behold," another woman wrote.