20 May 2010

Body Found In Cerberus Wreck

By Thomas Hunter

Missing ... Robert Zakarija.

Divers inspecting the wreck of the Cerberus in Port Phillip Bay got a nasty shock yesterday when they discovered a body.

Heritage Victoria divers found the badly decomposed corpse inside the wreck, which is off-limits to the public, about 2pm as they surveyed the half-submerged ship off Black Rock.

They promptly notified search and rescue police, who joined water police to mount the grisly retrieval operation.

Police said the body was thought to have been in the water and possibly trapped inside the hull of the former navy ship for some time.

Mont Albert man Robert Zakarija, 39, went missing on February 9 while snorkelling in Half Moon Bay.

Mr Zakarija was an experienced diver and a keen crab fisherman but an extensive search of the area found no trace of him.

His car was found at the Black Rock Yacht Club car park on the day he was reported missing.

The coronerís office is expected to run tests to identify the body.

"I believe we will need DNA testing to establish the identity," police spokesman Wayne Wislon said today.

The crumbling HMVS Cerberus is in a Heritage Victoria protected zone. Divers, snorkellers and swimmers are warned to keep clear of the wreck.