Watch: Missing diver found dead off White Rocks

Neil Zammit was "passionate and capable", went freediving daily

Video: Chris Sant Fournier

Updated at 9.20pm

The corpse of missing diver Neil Zammit has been found underwater, the tragic end of a story which started late afternoon on Monday.

An AFM spokesman confirmed shortly after 4pm that the operation to bring the corpse up to the surface was underway. In a statement, police confirmed that a male body, which they said had yet to be identified, had been found by White Rocks. 

The 20-year old spearfisher reported missing off Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, Neil Zammit, was described as a passionate and capable diver always eager to share his knowledge with others.

The search was started when Mr Zammit failed to surface after going for a freedive with a 38-year old friend, in an area where the sea is some 30m deep.

AFM personnel found his lifeless body in that same area, some 500 metres offshore and lying on seaweed, a source said. The body was brought ashore at Haywharf at around 6pm. 

'A very safe diver'

Claude Sciberras from the Dive Warehouse, which sponsored Mr Zammit and supplied him with equipment, told Times of Malta the young diver had already been practising the sport for around five years and would go diving daily for hours on end.

At his level of experience, Mr Sciberras said, he would have been able to descend to depths of around 20 metres on a single breath, and remain underwater for more than two minutes.

Neil with his girlfriend Rebecca. Photo: FacebookNeil with his girlfriend Rebecca. Photo: Facebook

“I’ve always known Neil as a very safe diver,” Mr Sciberras said. “He’s jolly and passionate about the sport, and he’s always eager to share his skills and experiences with other people.”

The young diver captured a number of his spearfishing dives on video and shared them with his friends on Facebook. 

Two patrol boats, an AFM helicopter and army divers continued searching the area on Tuesday morning, with more and more volunteers turning up to help with the effort, while distraught family members and other onlookers waited on shore.

Watch: Search for missing diver resumes at Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq

The AFM divers were called out of the water at around 11.30am as a precaution when a large fish was spotted, although it was not identified. The AFM said that the two diving teams resumed their search at 1.45pm. A few hours later, they announced that they had found a body.  

AFM rescuers search for the Mr Zammit's body. Photo: Chris Sant FournierAFM rescuers search for the Mr Zammit's body. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

People look on as the AFM rescue mission comes to an end. Photo: Chris Sant FournierPeople look on as the AFM rescue mission comes to an end. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

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