The missing Irishman who fell into the Brisbane River on Australia’s Queensland coast while on board a cruise ship on Saturday night is Shane O'Halloran from Enniskeane in West Cork.
Mr O'Halloran, who is 24, was celebrating the birthday of a friend with a 26-year-old female companion on board the ship when the woman got into difficulty and fell into the river at about 10.25pm local time.
The woman was quickly rescued but Mr O'Halloran, who was not an accomplished swimmer, did not surface.
Jim Kelly from Brisbane Cruises, who have run scheduled cruises on the river since 1987, said: “We spent hours, with help from other vessels and water police and pedestrians, scouring the area. We used an infra-red helicopter too.
“It was just near the end of the floodtide. We marked the location with a life buoy. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any evidence of the man.”
Mr Kelly added he was “totally shocked” by the incident, saying he had been operating cruises in the area for more than 20 years and no incident like this had happened before.
“I’ve never had any fatalities in this industry,” he said. “We like people to have a good time, but we like people to be safe. As soon as the person went overboard we stopped the music and the bar straight away.”
A massive search operation was launched by water police, the coast guard vessel and rescue helicopters which continued last night.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed the Irish Embassy in Canberra is in contact with the Australian authorities and the family in Ireland are being offered consular assistance.
Last night a huge crowd attended a vigil mass in the missing man's parish church in Enniskeane, 28 miles west of Cork City.