The receptionist at the Top Molinos Park Hotel in the resort of Salou, south of Tarragona, alerted the emergency services at 1.36 am after friends said that Mack Porter, 29, and Michelle Clydesdale, 24, from Northern Ireland, were missing.

In all, five Britons had left the 3-star, 246-room hotel for a swim on the nearby beach, but only three returned.

The Catalan police force, the Mossos d’Escuadre, called out its sea rescue squad as did the fire service. They found the bodies of the British couple on the beach where they had been deposited by large waves.

They have been taken to the regional capital, Tarragona, for an autopsy.

During the night storms had swept most of the costas on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, bringing fierce winds and driving rain.

The budget hotel where the young Britons were staying is close to Universal’s Port Aventura theme park, a popular destination south of Barcelona on Spain’s Golden Coast, the Costa Daurada.