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Divers fail to find missing Irish surfer at Byron Bay

TOUGH JOB: Police divers search for missing Irish tourist Stuart Butler at Cape Byron on Saturday.
TOUGH JOB: Police divers search for missing Irish tourist Stuart Butler at Cape Byron on Saturday. Doug Eaton

POLICE divers have failed to find the body of Irish surfer Stuart Butler who disappeared off Tallow Beach nine days ago.

Four NSW Police Marine Area Command divers arrived from Sydney on Friday afternoon and began the search on Saturday at about 8am.

They conducted an extensive search of the waters around the rocky out-cliff just north of Tallow Beach where Mr Butler was last seen.

Despite good conditions and "perfect visibility" there were no signs of the Mr Butler or his surfboard.

The divers called off the search at about 10.20am.

Byron police sergeant Chris Neaves said local police would continue on-ground searches for the missing Irish tourist.

"They'll (the divers) return back to their base and we'll continue our search of the beaches for any further evidence," he said.

"We've been searching along Tallow Beach to Broken Head and from Wategos through to Brunswick Heads."

Sgt Neaves said the divers conducted a "very methodical" search of the coastline, grottos and caves, taking into account the rip that was operating at the time.

"They've done a comprehensive search of the area where he was last sighted and there was no evidence found," he said.

Mr Butler was last seen struggling against a strong rip at the rocky base of Cape Byron last Saturday morning.

He had been surfing off Tallow Beach with two friends, American Levi Fahrenholtz and Englishman Mike Fuller, before the three were caught in a rip and swept towards the cliffs. Mr Butler's friends managed to escape from the rip but he hasn't been seen since.

Police have urged surfers and swimmers to take care.

"If you're inexperienced or new to the area, consider the conditions carefully and take advice from experts, surf schools and locals," Sgt Neaves said. "And if in doubt, don't go into the surf."

Topics:  beaches, byron bay, drowning, rips




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