Two British women died after being swept out to sea in 13 foot waves while on holiday in Spain.
The bodies of the two friends, named in reports as mothers Lisa Coggins and Tracey Aston, were recovered from the water seven hours after they went missing at 4.15am on Thursday.
Locals said one of the women had gone for a late-night swim and got into trouble in the rough waters.
The other then dived in after her, but they were both swept out to sea off the coast of Lloret de Mar, a popular resort on the Costa Brava where they had been staying.
Post-mortem investigations into how the pair died are expected to begin today.
They had reportedly ignored warnings not to go in the sea, which has been struck by very bad weather and large waves.
Speaking from his home in Birmingham, Ms Coggins' boyfriend Mario Sassano, 36, told the Birmingham Mail she was with her sisters and her friend when tragedy struck.
He said: "She had two children. We do not know how the news will be broken to them."
He paid tribute to his girlfriend, describing her as a "hardworking girl - just beautiful".
Mrs Aston's husband Aaron said he was "devastated".
A security guard at a beachfront bar saw the women as they posed for pictures on the beach shortly before they were swept out to sea.
He called the emergency services when two of the women got into trouble in the water.
A man who works with the security guard at the bar said: "A security guard was here last night, but he was the only one here.
"We were closed because of the bad weather.
"He saw them in the sea taking photos and then called the cops.
"Of course he is very shaken up by what he has seen."
A restaurant worker who gave his name only as Paco said: "The waves were four metres, they came all the way to the beach bars.
"A night watchman at one of the bars spoke to the girls. He said not to go swimming, but two girls went swimming.
"One of the girls returned but one did not, she got into problems in the water. Her friend went in to try to save her and she did not come back."
Rock Badfrozien, from Catalan Police, said the sea "was in very bad condition" and a red flag was on the beach.
He said: "They went to the beach in the night and the sea was in very bad condition.
"Two of them, these women, I don't know how old they are, went in to the water, and they died in the water."
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We can confirm the death of two British nationals who had been reported missing in Lloret de Mar on October 1.
"We are providing support to the families and those who were travelling with the individuals at this difficult time."
Salvamento Maritimo of the Spanish search and rescue team said the bodies of the women, believed to be aged 33 and 36, had been taken to the neighbouring town of Blanes, 40 miles north of Barcelona.
Mr Badfrozien said their bodies were found by a helicopter at 12.30pm one mile off the coast of Lloret de Mar, and that they were retrieved from the sea by a rescue boat half an hour later.
They are now being held at a medical centre and post-mortem examinations are expected to take place today, he said.