Two French tourists die while snorkelling at Great Barrier Reef in Australia

SYDNEY (AFP) - Two French tourists died on Wednesday (Nov 16) while snorkelling at a popular tourist spot on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the authorities said.

The man and woman, reportedly in their 60s, were spotted floating in the water at Michaelmas Cay, a reef-ringed sand island near Cairns, by staff working for dive company Passions of Paradise, chief executive Scotty Garden said.

"The Passions of Paradise lookout on the beach noticed a man floating in the water and pulled him to the sand cay where he performed CPR. He was then assisted by a doctor on the sand cay," Mr Garden said in a statement.

"The Passions of Paradise lookout on the boat saw a woman floating in the water and pulled her on to the catamaran where CPR was performed. A third person later suffered a medical condition, but has survived."

The pair who died - among a French group of 21 people on board Passions of Paradise's catamaran - had "pre-existing medical conditions and were accompanied by a guide when they were in the water", the chief executive said.

Col Mckenzie of Queensland state's Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators said the trio were snorkelling, but could not confirm how they died.

"Obviously something horrible has gone wrong. They were actually in the water with the dive guide," Mr Mckenzie said. "Because they indicated their medical conditions, what's gone wrong I don't know. It's what I am trying to find out right now."

Queensland Police said in a statement that the circumstances surrounding the deaths "are believed to be non-suspicious".