A British woman plunged to her death, along with her partner, while taking a selfie on a picturesque wall in Portugal, according to local authorities.
Perth man Michael Kearns, 33, Louise Benson, 37, his British partner, fell 30 metres off a beach wall and were found by shocked locals early on Tuesday morning.
His mother confirmed to local media that she had been notified of his death in the early hours of the morning in Perth.
She said the couple had left Australia in January on a holiday and had attended a friend’s wedding in Portugal in recent weeks.
A mobile phone was found on the top of the wall overlooking the beach in the seaside town of Ericeira, where the bodies of the couple were found on Tuesday morning.
Rui Pereira da Terra, the captain of the maritime authority in Cascais, said the two victims appeared to have lost their balance while taking a photograph overlooking Fishermen’s Beach.
“Everything seems to indicate that the fall happened when they were probably trying to take a selfie,” he said.
“As we found a mobile phone on the wall, our theory is that they were taking a selfie, but they dropped the phone and leaned to grab it and fell,” Mr Pereira da Terra told the Portuguese Lusa news agency.
Locals have said the wall is dangerous, and have asked for something to be done about it.
Pedro Fernandes Tomas wrote on Facebook: “With the fall of a couple of tourists from the cliff of fishermen’s beach in ericeira (30 meters high) it is urgent to rethink the security of that area. The locals know about the danger there, low wall and no protection net.
“With the growing influx of tourists there are measures that need to be taken, from the case I have already mentioned, but also at the level of regulation and effective monitoring of the numerous economic activities operating in the tourism sector. “
Susana Esmareldo agreed, writing: “I agree with you Pedro. I’ve always thought there’s a protection net missing, because the wall is low. I hope that action will be taken in the resolution of a protection policy.”
Ericeira is a popular tourist town around 25 miles northwest of Lisbon.
The accident is believed to have occurred between 1.00am and 6.00pm. The bodies were reportedly found by a council beach cleaner, who alerted the authorities at 6.30am.
The police inspected the scene and quickly ruled out any suspicions of foul play, Mr Pereira da Terra said. The bodies were taken to the Institute of Legal Medicine in Torres Vedras
Photographs of the accident scene showed two bodies covered in white sheets on the sand close together at the foot of the wall near a sign warning of the possibility of loose stones falling onto the beach.
The Foreign Office confirmed the woman involved in the tragic accident was British, and told The Telegraph: “We are in touch with local authorities following the death of a British woman in Portugal and are providing support to her family’.”
Friend, John Keogh, paid tribute to Louise Benson on Facebook: “It can be such a cruel world we live in. RIP Louise Benson yet again another great soul took away (sic) from us far too early. My condolences to all the family and loved ones.”
Liz Catchpole wrote: “No words can describe what we have lost. Louise Benson you had a passion for life. I will never forget you rocking up to The Adventure Club to do your DMT.. A quiet, not for long tho, Bristol girl who just loved life. Your smile infectious, your laugh amazing, your friendship invaluable … in shock and speechless, you will be missed and I will miss you so much.”