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British woman dies on Albania wreck-dive

Saranda, Albania
Saranda in Albania (Amanda Truscott)
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A British scuba diver, 29-year-old Rebecca Gannon, died on a boat-dive off the Mediterranean coast at the Albanian resort Saranda on Monday (19 September) – and the co-owner of the dive-centre running the dive has been detained by police investigating the incident.

Gannon, from Stone in Staffordshire, was with a group of seven, including her boyfriend, exploring the wreck of an Italian cargo ship sunk during WW2. It was unclear how many instructors were with the group.

Both Gannon and boyfriend Robert Keran are understood to have been PADI Open Water Divers. Gerta Brozi, a co-owner of Spiranca Diving Centre, was present on the boat and told press that the divers were no deeper than 8m.

An Italian WW2 cargo wreck 300m from shore, the ss Probitas, is highlighted on the Spiranca website, with a maximum depth of 18m. 

After some 10 minutes under water Gannon was said to have got into difficulties, and to have surfaced before sinking again. Spiranca Diving Centre co-owner and instructor Saimir Kushova, 45, who had also been on the boat, jumped into the water to bring Gannon back up.

Kushova and other instructors used CPR in attempts to resuscitate Gannon as the boat brought her ashore to where paramedics were waiting, but she was later confirmed to have died. 

Kushova was detained by police investigating the incident. According to local reports he was being held on suspicion of violating occupational health & safety regulations and illegally employing a diving instructor who was not fully qualified – thought to be Brozi.

Brozi told press that she didn’t know what had happened on the fatal dive and was awaiting the results of a post mortem examination and the police investigation. However, she did refer to an earlier issue with a regulator, but said that it had been “changed and was working fine”.

Saranda, which lies opposite the island of Corfu, is a popular Albanian diving location noted for its good underwater visibility. Spiranca Diving Centre, which has been operating since 2010, claims to be the only government-licensed dive-centre in the area, dedicated to small-group diving. Kushova has been diving for 20 years and is CMAS / PADI certified.

Also on Divernet: Questions Remain After UK Diver’s Death, Scuba Instructor Dies On Nocturnal Freedive, Dive Ban As Search Continues, British Diver Dies In Tenerife

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