Body found in search for missing snorkeller

A body has been found in the search for a young woman who went missing while snorkelling at Altona beach on Saturday.

The 20-year-old, from Ashwood in Melbourne’s east, was in the water with friends about 100 metres from shore when she disappeared from view while near the pier on Saturday about 11.15am.

Divers enter the water on the third day of a search for a missing snorkeller. Credit:Jason South

A search, involving specialist divers, water police and the air wing, was launched on Saturday and continued on Monday morning.

A body was recovered from the water about 11am.

Family of the young woman have remained at the scene throughout the search and watched as police and Life Saving Victoria continued to look for their loved one.

Local police, Water Police, Air Wing and specialist divers from Search and Rescue along with other agencies resume their search on Monday. Credit:Jason South

Life Saving Victoria is also involved in the search. Credit:Jason South

Life Saving Victoria state agency commander Kane Treloar said on Sunday they were continuing to assist police with the search.

“It is understood the woman was last seen about 100 metres out from shore and approximately 400 metres outside of the flagged zone,” he said.

“Life Saving Victoria lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers, our Westpac life saver rescue helicopter service, our drone service, two of our jet ski services and two inflatable rescue boats from Altona Lifesaving Club have supported the search efforts so far.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the missing woman during what is no doubt an extremely distressing time.”

The search operation came as Victoria marked its deadliest period for drownings on record. Forty-two people have drowned since July last year, including seven in the past month, making it the most deadly six-month period on record.

This is also 15 more than the five-year average. There was a total of 34 drownings in the 12 months prior to July last year.

Mr Treloar urged the public to check the weather conditions before they headed to beaches or waterways, and to only swim at patrolled locations, at patrolled times, and between the flags.

Police and family at the beach on Sunday. Credit:Luis Ascui

“For divers and snorkellers, make sure you’re always heading out with a mate and staying with your mate in the water. Don’t head out if you’re feeling unwell, and always dive within your limits,” he said.

“Conditions can change in an instant, which is why it’s so important to always stay in control in the water.”

At the beginning of summer, Life Saving Victoria warned of a “perfect storm” for drownings across the state after a year in which Victorians – particularly in Melbourne – were not able to travel far from their homes to swim, let alone access a public swimming pool.

VICTORIA DROWNINGS 2021

  • January 26: A 35-year-old man from St Kilda drowned after coming into difficulty while swimming near the northern Victorian town of Cobram, at the border with NSW. His body was found about four metres underwater by divers. 
  • January 23: A man died after he was pulled from the water on Thirteenth beach in Barwon Heads. A boy and girl were assisted back to shore while the man was winched from the water by a helicopter.
  •  January 23: The body of a 58-year-old man was found in the water off the coast of Anglesea. He had been out in a small boat with another man when the vessel overturned.
  •  January 20: Terry Chandler, 42, died after he was thrown from a tinnie near Darriman, in Victoria’s east. The woman and teen he was with were able to make it to shore. Mr Chandler was found by the police air wing in waters off McLoughlins Beach, about 60 kilometres from Traralgon.
  • January 16: A four-year-old girl from Doveton died after she was pulled unconscious from Lysterfield Lake, near Narre Warren, on January 13. She was taken to hospital in a critical condition but died several days later.
  • January 13: Lisa Mandeltort, a teacher at Nossal High School in Berwick, died helping to rescue a 14-year-old girl at Venus Bay on the South Gippsland coast. She helped the teen and another man back to shore but ended up in distress and was pulled from the water.
  • January 13: A 45-year-old postal worker, Aida Hamed, died after being swept off rocks by a wave at Bushrangers Bay on the Mornington Peninsula. Two men jumped into the water to rescue Ms Hamed, her friend and two teenage girls after they were swept into the sea.
  • January 13: A man in his 80s, who has not been identified publicly, was pulled unconscious from Rye front beach and was unable to be saved.

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