A young, Irish newlywed couple drowned off the coast of South Africa just six days after their wedding.

John Rodgers, 28, and his wife Lynette, 26, from Holywood, Co Down went swimming in rough sea conditions in Plettenberg Bay a few hours into their honeymoon and both drowned.

John Rodgers’ body was discovered in shallow surf on Robberg Beach by a local man early Friday evening, South Africa's National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said. His wife's body was found around 220 yards away along the same beach.

Doctors performed CPR, but the couple were pronounced dead around 6pm on Friday evening. 

Friends of the couple said they were “shocked” at the “absolute tragedy.”

North Down DUP MLA Gordon Dunne, who knows the family, said: “I am very shocked and saddened by the tragic news of the death of this young couple on their honeymoon in South Africa.

“This is an absolutely tragedy and my heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family of both the young man and young lady who have sadly passed away. For a tragedy like this to happen days after their wedding during their honeymoon is beyond words.

“There is widespread shock and a real sense of numbness within the local community in Holywood at this time, particularly as the young lady was born in Holywood, attended the local schools in the area, and was from a very well respected family.

“My heart goes out to the grieving families and I trust and pray that the family may know God's help at this tragic time.”

The NSRI said: “It is suspected that they drowned. Sea conditions were rough with strong rip-currents in the vicinity.

“Police have opened an inquest docket and although no foul play is suspected, the deaths are being investigated.”

Last Monday, Lynette Rodgers, a physiotherapist, had posted a message on Facebook thanking her loved ones for coming to their wedding, which was held at the First Presbyterian Church in Holywood last Saturday.

She wrote: “John and myself would like to thank to everyone that joined us on Saturday and for all the well wishes!

“We greatly appreciate it and had the best day ever. Heading off today so will speak to everyone when we return! Xx”

A spokeswoman for the UK's Foreign Office said: “We can confirm the deaths of two British nationals in South Africa on Friday October 23.

“We are providing assistance to both families at this extremely difficult time.”

Newlyweds John and Lynette Rodgers drowned off the coast of South Africa during their honeymoon.Facebook/Caroline Smyth