A 20-year-old Briton drowned while snorkelling in underwater caves around Santa Marija Bay in Comino yesterday afternoon.

Marcus Hughes-Hallet was on holiday with his parents and was diving from one cave to the other when he “got stuck in the rocks beneath the caves,” the Armed Forces of Malta said.

His father called for help and a number of people dived down to look for him. After several attempts they managed to bring him to the surface but Mr Hughes-Hallet was not breathing, the AFM said.

First aid was immediately administered. A boat that was passing by transferred Mr Hughes-Hallet to the rocks as lifeguards continued to administer cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

The AFM received an urgent call at 3.25 p.m. and immediately sent an Alouette III helicopter to the area with a rescue diver aboard.

The P32, the patrol boat stationed in Gozo, was also dispatched straight away.

The patrol boat arrived first and two of the crew cleared the area to allow the helicopter to safely carry out the rescue. Mr Hughes-Hallet was airlifted to Mater Dei Hospital but was declared dead at 5.15 p.m.

His parents were transferred to Ċirkewwa where an ambulance was waiting. The father was found to be suffering from shock. The police are investigating the incident.

This is the second tragic accident involving a snorkeller in the space of three weeks.

Earlier this month, Charles Brig­none, 44, was snorkelling off Marsa­scala when he was hit by the propeller of a boat. His body was found on the seabed the following day.

There have also been an inordinate number of diving deaths this year, with five taking place between April and June. Three of them are known to have been caused by cardiac problems.

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