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British diver, 29, dies exploring shipwreck off Albanian coast

British tourist, 29, dies in front of girlfriend while diving with group off Albanian resort: Instructor arrested

  • Rebecca Gannon, 29, took part in diving off the coast of Saranda, Albania
  • She was with her boyfriend when she got into trouble while diving and drowned
  • Police have arrested diving instructor, locally named Saimir Kushova, 45
  • He is accused of failing to provide security and employing an unqualified employee

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A diving instructor has been arrested after a British holidaymaker drowned in front of his girlfriend off the coast of Albania.

Rebecca Gannon, 29, was with her boyfriend when she got into trouble during the trip on Monday afternoon with a group of seven other divers.

Director Saimir Kushova, 45, jumped into the water to try to save her after realizing she was in trouble and managed to bring her to the surface.

Director Saimir Kushova (pictured), 45, has been arrested after a British holidaymaker drowned in front of his girlfriend off the coast of Albania

Director Saimir Kushova (pictured), 45, has been arrested after a British holidaymaker drowned in front of his girlfriend off the coast of Albania

A 29-year-old Briton has drowned during a diving excursion near Saranda in southern Albania (file photo)

A 29-year-old Briton has drowned during a diving excursion near Saranda in southern Albania (file photo)

A 29-year-old Briton has drowned during a diving excursion near Saranda in southern Albania (file photo)

Local media said Kushova (pictured) was detained on suspicion of violating health and safety regulations and illegally employing a diving instructor who was not fully qualified

Local media said Kushova (pictured) was detained on suspicion of violating health and safety regulations and illegally employing a diving instructor who was not fully qualified

Local media said Kushova (pictured) was detained on suspicion of violating health and safety regulations and illegally employing a diving instructor who was not fully qualified

Her boyfriend – who has not been named – could only watch helplessly as other instructors frantically tried to save her before driving back to shore.

Video posted on Albanian news websites shows a body being carried frantically from a boat at Sarande on the southern Albanian coast, where paramedics were waiting.

Gerta Brozi, who was on the boat and co-owns the Spiranca Diving Center, told MailOnline: ‘We really don’t know what happened and we are waiting for the police to complete their investigation.

‘The British woman who died was here with her boyfriend and they both had PADI open water certificates so they were both fully qualified to dive with us.

‘She had been in the water for ten minutes and then she got into difficulty, there had been a problem with a regulator before but it was changed and worked fine.

The next thing we knew Saimir had discovered she was in trouble and dove in to try and save her.

Saimir did everything he could, he brought her to the surface and then performed CPR on her as the boat headed back to shore where the paramedics were waiting.

‘It was a very traumatic experience and the girlfriend was very upset, just like everyone else on the boat. We just don’t know what happened.

The diver's body was carried from a boat at Sarande on the southern Albanian coast, where paramedics were waiting

The diver's body was carried from a boat at Sarande on the southern Albanian coast, where paramedics were waiting

The diver’s body was carried from a boat at Sarande on the southern Albanian coast, where paramedics were waiting

‘The wreck they dived to is not particularly deep, only seven to eight metres, so it is not a particularly difficult dive. We are awaiting the results of the autopsy and Saimir is with the police.’

Local media said he was detained on suspicion of violating health and safety regulations and illegally employing a diving instructor who was not fully qualified.

On its website, the dive center says: ‘Our own passion for diving is demonstrated by our commitment to ensuring our guests have the ultimate diving experience in a fun and relaxed environment.

‘Our diving center is staffed and equipped to handle up to 20 divers a day. We have the latest diving equipment and compressors (air only). We also have our own boats that give us access to the best off shore diving sites.

‘By dedicating our services to smaller groups, we can focus more on the specific needs and requirements of our customers, spend more time on each guest and guarantee a higher quality of service from our experienced and friendly team.’

The party dived on the wreck of an Italian cargo ship sunk during the Second World War, the Probitas, which lies inside the Bay of Saranda.

An FCDO spokesman said: ‘We are supporting the family of a British woman who has died in Albania and are in contact with the local authorities.’