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Last Updated: Monday, 9 April 2007, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Canoe tragedy victim 'was a hero'
Searchers in a dinghy
A police helicopter was also used in the operation
A teenager who died in a tragic canoe accident at the weekend has been described as a hero.

The family of Rory McAlinden said he held onto his cousin Claire Steele "until the end" when their canoe capsized in Castlewellan lake.

Rory, 18, and 16-year-old Claire have been described by their brothers as the best of friends.

Friends and relatives mounted a vigil at the lakeside as their bodies were recovered by a search party.

The funerals of the two County Down cousins are expected to take place on Tuesday.

They went missing in the water at Castlewellan Forest Park at about 0100 BST on Saturday.

James Steele and his cousin Brian McAlinden spoke emotionally about their sister and brother.

Clare was described as "the pride and joy of the Steele family".

"She was one of the best sisters," said James.

Rory was described as a hero who held onto his cousin Clare to the end.

A third person in the canoe managed to swim ashore and dial 999.

Laurence Cummings of the Coastguard said the cousins were found by a local dive team at about 1100 BST on Saturday.

The coastguard, the police and the fire and rescue service had all been involved in the search. A police helicopter was also used in the operation.

An Easter Sunday parade in Castlewellan was cancelled as a mark of respect to the two cousins.

Prayers were also said for the teenagers at churches in the town on Sunday morning.

Emotional scenes at the lakeside

Teen cousins die in canoe tragedy
07 Apr 07 |  Northern Ireland

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