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Australian police find cocaine worth $14 million near body of diver

Story by Reuters

Australian police launched a probe on Tuesday after 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of suspected cocaine, estimated to be worth about 20 million Australian dollars ($14 million), was found near the body of a diver washed up on a riverbank in the state of New South Wales.

A man wearing high-end diving equipment was found lying unconscious near the Hunter River at Newcastle, about 170 kilometers (106 miles) north of Sydney, on Monday, New South Wales police said. Despite treatment by paramedics, the man — whose identity is not known — died at the scene.

Several packages, which contained a white powder believed to be cocaine, were found nearby.

“We are trying to identify whether the two incidents are linked. They may well be but we are open minded as to the options in front of us,” New South Wales police Detective Superintendent Robert Critchlow told reporters.

Investigators searched an overseas-registered ship docked nearby on Tuesday and talked to the crew, Critchlow said. Two small boats were reportedly seen near the vessel Sunday night and authorities are seeking the public’s help to identify them.

A search of the surrounding waters will continue on Tuesday, with divers assisted by officers from the Australian Border Force, police said.

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