Diver’s body washes up near $14m cocaine haul in Australia

Investigators searching the area after the diver and suspected-cocaine packages were found in the Hunter River in Newcastle, New South Wales on Monday

Australian police are investigating after a diver’s body was found near packages of cocaine worth an estimated $14m (A$20m; £11m) in New South Wales.

A man wearing high-end diving equipment died after being found unconscious near the Hunter River at Newcastle on Monday, according to police.

He has been identified as a foreign national, local media report.

Packages containing around 50kg (100 lbs) of cocaine were discovered near his body.

“We are trying to identify whether the two incidents are linked. They may well be but we are open-minded as to the options in front of us,” New South Wales police Detective Superintendent Robert Critchlow told reporters.

Detective Critchlow said the diver was found with specialist equipment including a rebreather, which does not emit bubbles when breathing under water.

Two small boats were reportedly seen near an overseas-registered ship docked near the crime scene on Sunday night, police added.

Police said more people were involved in the operation, meaning the diver had apparently been left to die.

“It is pretty awful, really, regardless what the fellow may have been up to,” Superintendent Critchlow said.

Police have searched the vessel and have appealed to the public for help identifying the two smaller boats.

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