The Daily Telegraph

Instructor arrested after British diver dies

Albanian police investigat­e incident after 29-year-old woman perishes while exploring shipwreck

- By Nick Squires in Athens

‘We don’t know what happened. We’re waiting for the autopsy. We’re all very shocked’

‘She was diving on a shipwreck, but was only at a depth of eight metres so it was not very challengin­g’

A DIVING instructor has been arrested after a young British woman died diving off the coast of Albania.

The 29-year-old victim was with her boyfriend on a Second World War cargo shipwreck off Saranda, a resort in the south of Albania, not far from the Greek island of Corfu.

She reportedly got into trouble underwater, although the cause of her death was not immediatel­y clear.

A video published on an Albanian news website showed a body being taken off a dive boat and carried up a beach, with a female paramedic in attendance.

Police arrested the instructor in charge of the diving trip, who was named as Saimir Kushova, 45.

He is being investigat­ed on charges including violating health and safety rules and illegally employing a dive instructor who was not fully qualified.

The British woman and her boyfriend were among eight tourists who were on the dive boat on Monday when the incident took place.

“We don’t know what happened,” an employee at the dive company, Spiranca Diving Centre, said yesterday.

“We’re waiting for the autopsy. We’re all very shocked,” they added.

“She was a qualified open water diver, she had a PADI [Profession­al Associatio­n of Diving Instructor­s] certificat­e, as did her boyfriend. She was diving on a shipwreck, but was only at a depth of seven or eight metres so it was not a very challengin­g dive. She came to the surface, but then went down for some reason.

“Saimir has been arrested, but he was the one who tried to rescue her. He gave her CPR on the boat.”

Spiranca Diving Centre has been in operation since 2010. The company says it offers: “A more personalis­ed and intimate experience for experience­d and beginner divers alike. Our own passion for diving is shown by our commitment to ensuring our guests have the ultimate diving experience in a fun and relaxed environmen­t. We have the latest dive equipment and compressor­s.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are supporting the family of a British woman who has died in Albania and are in contact with the local authoritie­s.”

Saranda is popular with divers and renowned for its underwater visibility, which ranges from 15m (50ft) up to 30m.

In nearby Ksamili, divers can explore six former Albanian navy ships that were deliberate­ly sunk 20 years ago by the authoritie­s to create a dive park. The vessels are found at depths ranging from 18m to 30m.

The Rough Guide describes Saranda as “perhaps Albania’s most appealing entry point”.

It added: “A recent building boom has eroded some of the town’s original genteel atmosphere, but it’s still a great place to kick back, stroll along the promenade and watch the sun set over cocktails. There are beaches in town, but there are better beaches at nearby Ksamili, some 20km to the south.”

The diving centre is run by a small team and owned by experience­d divers including Saimir Kushova, who has 20 years dive experience, and Tamas Hallo, a diver with eight years under his belt, according to the company website. The centre says it is staffed and equipped to take 20 divers out to sea per day.

The group had been exploring the shipwreck of a Probitas SS that was sunk by German bombers during their return from an attack on the Balkans. Traces of bombs can still be found inside the ship, which is marked above water with a buoy signalling danger below, according to a local diving centre.

Around 300m away from Probitas, there is a fishing trawler wreck, according to a post on social media forum Reddit.

“[The fishing trawler was] even cooler than this one. It is swept in old nets which allows lots of little fish to live there safely, but as a diver it is terrifying since nets are literally designed to catch you and keep you down there,” a visitor to the wreck wrote.

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