Great Barrier Reef: third fatality in a week as British tourist dies on dive

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 November, 2016, 10:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 18 November, 2016, 10:16pm

A British man has died while ­diving on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, becoming the third casualty in three days at the popular tourist attraction.

The 60-year-old was found yesterday without a breathing ­device during a tandem scuba dive at Agincourt reef, 100km north of Cairns. A nurse on board the tour vessel tried in vain to ­revive the man with a defibrill­ator, according to the Queensland ambulance service.

Two French tourists died on the reef from near simultaneous heart attacks on Wednesday. Jacques Goron, 76, and Danielle Franck, 74, died within minutes of each other while snorkelling at Michaelmas Cay, also near Cairns.

An Australian cardiologist has speculated whether they were stung by venomous Irukandji ­jellyfish but a dive industry rep­resentative said there was no sign of jellyfish at the scene.

Col McKenzie, of the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, said three deaths in three days was an exceptional turn of events on the reef but it was diff­icult to draw any lessons from an apparently tragic coincidence.

“It is really unusual but I’m kind of at a loss,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this in so long, and you look and think, what can we learn from this? It is really difficult to see how we could have done anything else, to be perfectly frank.

“The worldwide average for people having a fatality when ­diving is one fatality per 100,000 dives. In Queensland, we have one fatality for 450,000 dives – so we have a record that is four-and-

a-half times better than the worldwide industry average.”