A POLICE investigation was underway last night after a young girl drowned in a hotel swimming pool when a North-East family's holiday to Cyprus turned to tragedy.

Investigators are examining closed circuit television footage after reports that the youngster - who has not been named - lay on the bottom of the swimming pool for five minutes.

Unconfirmed reports suggested that a lifeguard was not on duty when the tragedy occurred.

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The family, who are understood to have links to both Darlington and south west Durham, arrived on the Mediterranean island on Sunday (June 15).

Tragedy struck just a day later.

The youngster died after getting into difficulty in the swimming pool at the Evalena Hotel Apartments, in the resort of Protaras, on the island's south-eastern coast, on Monday (June 16) afternoon.

Eyewitnesses said the child may have lain on the bottom of the pool for up to five minutes before the alarm was raised.

The girl, who has not been named, had gone on holiday with her mother, grandparents and other family members.

It is not known when the family plans to return to the UK.

Adam Kirk, a spokesman for the police service in the Cypriot city of Famagusta, said: "A tourist saw the child in the bottom of the pool.

"He dived in and took her out but it was already too late.

"It seems that the parents had not seen the child. She was in the bottom of the pool for about five minutes."

The girl was rushed by ambulance to a private clinic in the town of Paralimni, five miles away, but medics were unable to revive her.

Officers have been examining CCTV footage from the pool area in a bid to understand more about the tragedy.

A post-mortem examination was carried out at Larnaca General Hospital on Tuesday.

It confirmed the cause of death as drowning.

Protaras is a resort popular with families and couples, six miles from Ayia Napa.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We are aware of the death of a British national in Cyprus on June 16 and are providing consular assistance at this sad time."

A Durham Police spokeswoman said the force had been informed of the tragedy.