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Search on for dad in snorkelling tragedy

17 May 2013, 09:56

Sydney - Two distraught Australian children who saw their mother drown and their father disappear at sea were reunited with relatives as police on Friday continued to scour the ocean for the missing man.

The body of Kathreen Ricketson, aged 41, washed ashore as the children, 13 and 10, watched on Wednesday near the idyllic West Australian holiday spot of Coral Bay after she went snorkelling with partner Robert Shugg.

Police said the children, a boy and girl, noticed their mother floating face-down in the water before she washed ashore. The father was also seen face-down before disappearing without a trace.

"It would have been just horrific for the children," Inspector Dominic Wood told reporters, adding that the incident was being treated as a tragic accident and ruling out a shark attack.

"What they had to go through must be any child or any person's worst nightmare."

The West Australian newspaper said the children, who were on a family camping adventure, were reunited with their grandparents who flew in from Tasmania as an air, ground and water search continued for Shugg.

Coral Bay, about 1 100km north of Perth, is at the southern end of the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef, one of few places on earth where you can get close to the biggest fish in the ocean - the whale shark.

Reports said the area was renowned for rolling waves and strong undercurrents.


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