Body of woman buried at sea found off Jersey coast

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A body found off the coast of Jersey was that of a Guernsey woman who had been buried at sea.

The body was recovered by Jersey's lifeboat on 14 September about seven nautical miles off the north coast.

A joint statement from Guernsey and Jersey Police said the woman died in August and was buried at sea shortly afterwards.

An investigation into the burial found no offences had been committed, police said.

The dead woman has not been named.

Start Quote

In 25 years I have never heard of this happening”

End Quote John Lister Britannia Shipping Company

"This is an incredibly traumatic time for the family," a police spokesman said.

Devon-based Britannia Shipping Company which specialises in burials at sea - but did not preside over the lady's funeral - said it was "impossible to speculate" on how such a tragic incident had happened.

Managing Director John Lister, who has officiated at more than 200 sea burials, said in the UK they were carefully controlled and licensed by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

"In 25 years I have never heard of this happening," Mr Lister told BBC News.

Of three MMO designated sea burial sites, the one Britannia uses is near the Needles - the extreme westerly point of the Isle of Wight - because of the currents.

'Single location'

"It has all been very, very carefully worked out, so even if something untoward should happen, the currents are such that they would have a negative effect and a heavily-weighted coffin should not return," Mr Lister added.

As a Crown dependency, Guernsey does not come under the UK or MMO's jurisdiction.

The States of Guernsey Health and Social Services Department (HSSD) is responsible for approving sea burials.

Only one location is used, but the department declined to say where.

"When due process has been followed and a written application has been received, advice is provided to the funeral director on the process that must be followed and the location of the burial at sea is agreed," an HSSD statement to the BBC said.

Once an application has been approved, an officer from the Office of Environmental Health and Pollution Regulation will supervise the process at a funeral director's premises to ensure "all the necessary requirements" were in place prior to the sea burial.

HSSD added that a record of all applications is maintained so all activities on, or within, the seabed around Guernsey can be identified.

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