Three British tourists died while climbing waterfalls in central Vietnam early Friday afternoon, and their guide was being questioned by police, officials and state media reported.

It wasn't immediately known how they died in the accident in Lam Dong province.

Vo Anh Tan, deputy director of the Lam Dong joint stock tourist company that manages the Datanla waterfalls, said visitors usually start at the top of the tiered waterfall, which was popular among Western tourists.

Tan said an unauthorized local private tour operator arranged the tour for the tourists and apparently did not pay for entrance tickets and did not use the company's safety gear.

He said the guide was detained by police for questioning.

State-run Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper said the bodies of two women and a man who were British were recovered.