18 Dec 2015

Vanuatu diving death - 'preventable tragedy'

4:24 pm on 18 December 2015

A coroner's report has found the death of a tourist in Vanuatu, who died after an ill-fated diving trip two years ago, was avoidable.

The local operator's dive processes were found to be well short of international safety standards:

Laila Osunsade, a New Zealand resident, drowned while diving off one of the island's main diving attractions in May 2013 - the wreck of the American wartime troopship, the SS President Coolidge.


Photo: Photo NZ

The American national's body was sent back to New Zealand where the death was referred to the coroner.

Coroner H B Shortland has made a number of recommendations from what he describes as a "preventable tragedy".

The report found some of the dive equipment provided to the 33-year-old by Aquamarine Santo contributed to her death; some of it needed servicing, and she was given ill-fitting dive booties and fins.

It also found she was overweighted by at least 9 kilograms which affected her buoyancy.

The coroner says while the recommendations are not binding on authorities in Vanuatu, observing them could only enhance the tourism industry there.