Missing European divers found drifting alive

9th June 2008, Comments 0 comments

The five divers who had been missing for two days in waters east of Bali was found drifting alive by fishermen on Saturday, say police.

9 June 2008

KUPANG - Five European divers who had been missing for two days in treacherous waters east of Bali were found drifting but alive by fishermen on Saturday, Indonesian police said.

Police in the Nusa Tenggara island chain where the divers went missing late Thursday said fishermen sent on a search mission by authorities had located them south of the tiny island of Rinca.

"Fishermen found them floating in the water. They are all safe," Manggarai Barat district police chief Butje Hello told AFP.

He said the divers - three Britons, a Frenchman and a Swede - were being taken to Labuanbajo, the western port of Flores island.

The husband of one of the missing British divers told AFP he had not yet spoken to his wife but he was relieved she had been found alive after apparently being swept away in strong currents on Thursday afternoon.

"They are all alive and medical services are on standby. Thank God. I just want to hear my wife's voice," dive master Ernest Lewandowski said.

Labuanbajo is about 80 kilometres north of Rinca island, which is the east of the Nusa Tenggara archipelago.

The divers were exploring reefs in the Komodo National Park when they vanished.

Lewandowski said he and his wife, Kathleen Mitchinson, who together own a dive shop on Flores, were leading two separate groups of divers when his wife's group got into difficulties.

He only noticed they were missing when his group surfaced an hour after entering the water.

Divers say a combination of relatively shallow water between numerous islands in the Komodo park creates dangerous currents which can develop suddenly during tide changes.

The rips mean the divers can be carried tens of kilometres away in a matter of hours.

The Reefseekers Diving business owned by Lewandowski and Mitchinson, who are both long-time residents of Flores island, is one of only a handful of diving operators in the national park.

A lack of fuel for aircraft meant police had to call on local fishermen to help cover the search area.

The Komodo National Park is famed for rocky and dry islands housing the giant lizard of the same name.

[AFP / Expatica]

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