| 11.9°C Belfast

Beauty queen's body discovered


Maria Jose Alvarado was crowned Miss Honduras in April, and had been due to compete in Miss World (AP)

Maria Jose Alvarado was crowned Miss Honduras in April, and had been due to compete in Miss World (AP)

Maria Jose Alvarado was crowned Miss Honduras in April, and had been due to compete in Miss World (AP)

Two bodies, believed to be those of Miss Honduras and her sister, have been found buried near the spa where they disappeared six days ago, police have said.

Authorities are awaiting confirmation from forensic officials that the bodies are beauty queen Maria Jose Alvarado, 19, and her sister, Sofia, 23, according to General Ramon Sabillon, the Honduran national police director.

Both women had been shot.

Plutarco Ruiz, the boyfriend of Sofia, and an accomplice, Aris Maldonado, have been arrested, Gen Sabillon said.

The sisters were last seen on the previous Thursday in a spa in Santa Barbara, about 240 miles west of Tegucigalpa, where they had gone to celebrate Ruiz's birthday.

Ms Alvarado, 19, was crowned Miss Honduras in April and was expected to compete in the Miss World pageant in London next month. She was supposed to have left for London on Sunday.

Gen Sabillon said Ruiz had led authorities to the bodies.

The sisters' mother Teresa Munoz said: "They were not very astute about assessing the people around them. They were just friendly.

"They were taken out by people they hadn't known very long."

Police said Ruiz allegedly shot his girlfriend, Sofia, because she was dancing with another man.

After a fierce argument, he pulled out a pistol and fired at Sofia first, then at Ms Alvarado as she tried to flee.

Ms Munoz said Ruiz called her the following morning, acting in a nervous manner and claiming the young women had left the party in a car with some other people.

A Miss World representative said Honduras would not compete in the contest this year, given the tragedy.

Honduras, overrun with streets gangs and drug trafficking, has the highest murder rate in the world for a country not involved in war, with an estimated 90 to 95 killings per 100,000 people.

It is one of Latin America's poorest countries and earlier this year was the main source of a surge in unaccompanied minors migrating to the United States, many to escape the violence.

Ms Alvarado had also worked as a model on the game programme, El Show X O da Dinero, of television personality and former presidential candidate Salvador Nasrallah. He said he was very saddened by the news.

"A lot of girls die this way, but because they're not famous, it doesn't get the attention and the crimes go unpunished," Mr Nasrallah said.

"She was a girl of good principles who fell into a trap, a game with guns, and ended up a victim of a violent system."

In the South American nation of Venezuela, which also suffers from high crime, a former Miss Venezuela and popular soap-opera actress, Monica Speer, was killed during a robbery in January while she was visiting her homeland with her family.