A young couple from Northern Ireland who had just married have drowned while on honeymoon in South Africa.
John and Lynette Rodgers, from Holywood in County Down, were found on a beach at Plettenberg Bay in the Western Cape on Friday.
The couple were married at a church in Holywood last Saturday.
Mrs Rodgers has family in the Dungiven area in Co. Derry while it is understood Mr Rodgers is from Ballygowan in Co. Down.
Lynette sent a Facebook message to her friends and family from Dublin airport on Monday while waiting for their flight which read: “John and I would like to thank to everyone who joined us on Saturday and for all the well wishes. We greatly appreciate it and had the best day ever. Heading off today so will speak to everyone when we return.”
The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said crew were activated following a request for assistance from a local man, on Robberg Beach, Plettenberg Bay, reporting to have found the body of Mr Rodgers, 28, in shallow surf on the beach.
An NSRI spokesperson said while he reported it to emergency services two female walkers told him they had come across the body of Mrs. Rodgers, 26, about 200 metres along the beach.
The NSRI, police and ambulance services responded “but, sadly, despite extensive CPR efforts the NSRI doctor declared both persons deceased”.
“It is believed that they had gone to swim shortly after arriving in Plettenberg Bay on holiday,” said the spokesperson. “It is suspected that they drowned. Sea conditions were rough with strong rip-currents in the vicinity. Police have opened an inquest docket and although no foul play is suspected the deaths are being investigated.”
The emergency services and those involved have expressed sincerest condolences.
A UK Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are providing assistance to both families at this extremely difficult time, and will remain in contact with local authorities.”
North Down DUP MLA Gordon Dunne said: “There is widespread shock across the local community in Holywood at this time, particularly as the young lady was born in Holywood, and attended the local schools in the area, and was from a very well respected family.”