Japan diver: Sea spun 'like washing machine'

2014-02-19 18:26
A Japanese scuba diver is carried onto an ambulance from a boat as she arrives in Sanur in Denpasar on the Indonesian island of Bali. (Sonny Tumbelaka, AFP)

A Japanese scuba diver is carried onto an ambulance from a boat as she arrives in Sanur in Denpasar on the Indonesian island of Bali. (Sonny Tumbelaka, AFP)

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Semawang - A Japanese scuba diver who survived three days in waters off Bali after going missing with six other women has told how the weather suddenly turned bad and the sea spun "like a washing machine".

Saori Furukawa, one of five Japanese divers rescued on Monday, gave her dramatic account as rescuers hunted for a woman still missing and a day after a body of one diver was found.

Furukawa said the weather had seemed "serene" when the group set off on Friday from Nusa Lembongan, just east of the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

Separated

"At the start of our diving there was no problem in terms of weather and sea conditions", she said in a statement released to Japanese media late Tuesday, adding there were "almost no waves".

But suddenly the group was hit by a huge storm, she added.

"The surface of the sea started to spin like a washing machine and all of us span around together, hand in hand", she said.

The 37-year-old and four others managed to clamber onto rocks and coral reefs after drifting for a long time and were picked up by rescuers on Monday and taken to hospital.

They were found some 20km from where they set off, although Furukawa was in a different spot to the others.

She had separated from the other divers to try and reach a passing tugboat in the hope it would pick them up, but said that she "couldn't get close".

"The current was running in the opposite direction from the current where the rest of the members stayed, so I was swept further away from them", she said.

'Dead or alive'

She arrived at a rocky outcrop late on Saturday and survived for a further two days by drinking rainwater.

Rescuers continued to search for the seventh diver, instructor Shoko Takahashi, who with her Indonesian husband ran the company Yellow Scuba that took the divers out on the expedition.

Her husband, Putu Mahardena Sembah, joined the search on Wednesday, telling reporters "I wish we can find" her, although police cautioned that her chances of survival were slim after five days at sea.

Some 15 rescuers left Semawang beach in south Bali in three boats, while a search and rescue helicopter hovered overhead, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

Japanese friends and relatives of the divers, who had travelled to Bali to help in the search, were among the rescuers setting off from the beach, which is lined with scuba diving centres.

Rescue agency officials said they would expand their search area to the neighbouring island of Lombok, as well as hunting near the tourist areas of Sanur and Kuta in southern Bali.

However local police chief Nyoman Suarsika warned: "The chances of finding her alive are very slim now that she has been missing for five days.

"Whether alive or dead, we will try our very best to find her".

The rescued divers were found in the Manta Point area off Nusa Penida island, which is next to Nusa Lembongan.

They are now in hospital in Bali with sunburn and dehydration but doctors say none are in a serious condition.

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