A woman drowned while exploring a shipwreck on a diving trip after she became separated from her group, an inquest has heard.

Catherine Vigar, 33, from Farnborough, was on holiday in Larnaca, Cyprus, with her partner Scott Ardley in October 2010.

Woking Coroner’s Court heard on Tuesday (December 16) that the pair had learnt to dive together in May 2007 and were both "confident and experienced".

They went to Cyprus to complete two advanced diving courses before spending the last part of their holiday exploring the Zenobia wreck - a ferry which capsized in 1980. The wreck is popular among divers, however, only around five minutes can be spent inside due to its depth.

On October 24, Miss Vigar and Mr Ardley were diving with their instructor, Sheridian Keeble, and Miss Vigar entered the engine room before disappearing.

At the inquest, Mr Ardley said: "There was a distinct gut feeling. Very quickly I thought we were missing someone and I could see there was just one person in front."

The instructor returned to look for Miss Vigar, but indicated she could not see her.

Open verdict

Chris Demetriou, the owner of the diving school, came out to assist. In a statement, read out at the inquest, he said: "I could see her at the end of the engine room.

"When I saw her she had no regulator in her mouth. She was stuck in some wreckage but I managed to get us out."

Mr Ardley helped get his partner into the boat and began performing CPR. Both of her air tanks were empty and she was transferred to hospital.

A post-mortem found the cause of death to be drowning.

It is thought Miss Vigar was missing for around 15 minutes before Mr Demetriou retrieved her.

Mr Ardley claimed in his evidence that he had been told his partner waved at Mr Demetriou when he discovered her, however, in his statement, Mr Demetriou said he understood she was already dead.

Coroner Dr Karin Englehart recorded an open verdict, however family members indicated that they felt some of their questions had not been answered.

Miss Vigar was the fifth person to be killed in the wreck, and another British man died there in March.

Following her death, it was reported that Miss Vigar’s family threatened the Cyprus Ports Authority with legal action, causing them to place a diving ban on the Zenobia, however, this was lifted shortly after following a backlash from divers.