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Tragic backpacker was first-time diver

THE tragic Irish backpacker who died in a freak scuba diving accident in Australia was a "first-time diver".

Elaine Morrow (23) from Ballintra, Donegal was on a three-day charter boat trip with pals on Langford Island off north Queensland on Sunday and decided to go scuba diving, but never resurfaced.

She was with 12 other tourists at the time of the tragedy, which occurred at 4:15pm on Sunday, near the Whitsunday Islands, a popular destination with Irish tourists.


And her family said that they are devastated by Elaine's untimely death.

A family relative, who did not want to be named, said: "We are slowly trying to come to terms with what happened.

"We are still in shock and we are completely devastated and don't wish to comment any further."

Another source close to the family said: "They are just overcome with grief. She was a lovely girl, very bubbly and friendly and she only left at the start of the year to work and travel around Australia.

"It was something she had always wanted to do and she was having the time of her life.

"To think she died out there is just heartbreaking."

The NUI Maynooth graduate had flown to Australia in January on a one-year visa, and celebrated her 23rd birthday last month.

Her distraught family are waiting for the post-mortem results before they can fly their beloved daughter home. However, this is expected to take up to 10 days.

Initial police reports suggest Elaine had only just begun learning how to scuba dive.

Sergeant Mark Jones of Mackey Police in Queensland said: "We believe she was a first-time diver who got lost from the group and failed to resurface.

"CPR was performed but she couldn't be revived.

"Investigations are ongoing to establish exactly what happened and we would like to extend our condolences to her family at this time."

And Sgt Graeme Pettigrew of Whitsunday's Water Police similarly said that Elaine had become separated from the group during the excursion.

"The person involved was on a resort introductory dive," he explained.

"She was not an experienced diver. She became lost from the group.

"There were three divers and the instructor, but the rest of them surfaced and she wasn't on the surface."

Mayor of Ballyshannon Brendan Travers said the news of her death had stunned the community.

"When something like this comes out of the blue, it's so hard for people to take. Our thoughts and our prayers are with her family."