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Murdered: Miss World beauty queen contestant and her sister found dead.

Miss Honduras. (Photo: ABC)
The bodies of Maria Jose Alvarado (right) and her sister Sofia were found buried near a river in the mountainous region of Santa Barbara in western Honduras. (Photo: via ABC)

A Honduran beauty queen has been found murdered just days before she was due to compete in the Miss World pageant in London, police say.

The bodies of Maria Jose Alvarado, 19, and her sister Sofia, 23, were found buried near a river in the mountainous region of Santa Barbara in western Honduras.

Alvarado, a student who aspired to become a career diplomat, had been due to take part in the Miss World events that start on Thursday and culminate in the final in London on December 14.

She and her sister had been missing since Thursday, when they were seen leaving a party in a car without a license plate in Santa Barbara, a coffee-growing region where drug gangs are active.

“I can confirm that the Alvarado sisters were found… we also have the murder weapon and the vehicle in which they were transported to the site where they were buried,” Leandro Osorio, head of the criminal investigation unit, said.

Police arrested Plutarco Ruiz, the boyfriend of the beauty queen’s sister, and another man, and confiscated two pistols and their pick-up truck.

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Honduras is the world’s most violent country with a murder rate above 90 people per 100,000. Drug cartels use Honduras as a staging post for US-bound cocaine from South America, aggravating violence in the impoverished Central American nation that has helped spark a surge in illegal immigration to the United States.

Miss Hondurus murdered
Miss Hondurus and her sister were found buried near a river. (Photo: via ABC)

Alvarado was crowned Miss Honduras World 2014 in April, beating 18 other contestants to the top spot.

The daughter of a lower middle class family from Santa Barbara, Alvarado had worked as a model for local department stores.

Julia Morley, chairman of the Miss World Organisation, which began in the United Kingdom in the 1950s, said the group was “devastated by this terrible loss of two young women, who were so full of life”.

The organisation would say prayers for the dead women in a service on Sunday and hold a fundraiser to donate money for a children’s home in Honduras chosen by their mother, Ms Morley said.

This story was originally published on ABC and has been republished with full permission. You can read the original story on the ABC website here.

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