British 29-year-old scuba diver dies in Albania

British 29-year-old scuba instructor dies on Albanian dive with head of school arrested
British 29-year-old scuba instructor dies on Albanian dive with head of school arrested

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

Rebecca Gannon, 29, from the market town of Stone in Staffordshire, was diving with her boyfriend on a Second World War cargo shipwreck off Saranda, a resort on the southern coast 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 red and white dive boat by seven people 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.

Diving instructor Saimir Kushova was arrested
Diving instructor Saimir Kushova was arrested

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

Ms Gannon and her boyfriend, Robert Kerans, were among eight tourists who were on the dive boat on Monday when the accident happened.

They were reportedly diving on the wreck of the Probitas, an Italian merchant ship that sank in the Bay of Saranda after being bombed during the Second World War. The vessel lies on its port side on the sandy bed of the bay, around 300 yards from the shore.

“We don’t know what happened,” an employee at the dive company, Spiranca Diving, told The Telegraph on Tuesday.

“We’re waiting for the autopsy. We’re all very shocked. She was a qualified open water diver, she had a PADI 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.”

The tragic accident happened off the resort of Saranda in southern Albania - Getty
The tragic accident happened off the resort of Saranda in southern Albania - Getty

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 spokesperson for the Foreign Office 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 15 metres up to 30 metres.

In nearby Ksamili, divers can explore six former Albanian navy ships which were deliberately sunk 20 years ago by the authorities to create a dive park.

The vessels are found at depths ranging from 18 metres to 30 metres.

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

“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 better are those nearby Ksamili, some 20km to the south.”