Japan divers heading home after Bali ordeal

2014-02-20 09:30
Rescued Japanese tourists Nahomi Tomita, Atsumi Yoshinobe, Emi Yamamoto, Aya Morizono leave after a press conference at Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar on Bali island. (Sonny Tumbelaka, AFP)

Rescued Japanese tourists Nahomi Tomita, Atsumi Yoshinobe, Emi Yamamoto, Aya Morizono leave after a press conference at Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar on Bali island. (Sonny Tumbelaka, AFP)

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Denpasar - Four Japanese scuba divers who went missing off Bali for three days left hospital on Thursday and prepared to return home, as they revealed they were "swallowed by big waves" during a terrifying ordeal at sea.

The women, among seven who disappeared after setting off for a diving expedition on Friday, bowed deeply to reporters and apologised for causing any trouble as they were discharged from hospital in the Balinese capital Denpasar.

It came as rescuers scoured the coast of the Indonesian resort island for one last day to find a diver who is still missing.

Five of the Japanese divers have so far been rescued while the body of a sixth was found floating near a beach.

The rescued divers suffered sunburn and dehydration but no serious injuries, although they have been left mentally "devastated", according to a Japanese official on Bali.

Exhaustion, thirst

In a joint statement, the four women discharged on Thursday said they worked hard to keep each others' spirits up after huge waves and storms pushed them onto rocks, miles from where they had set off.

"We told each other that we will go home alive. We encouraged each other by saying we could keep going because we had already survived drifting in the water for 28 hours," they said.

They set off Friday from Nusa Lembongan Island, just east of Bali, but soon got lost. After drifting for a long time, they were slammed against rocks near the coast and were "swallowed by big waves three to four times".

Four of them managed to clamber onto some rocks in a remote area off Nusa Penida Island, which is next to Nusa Lembongan, on Saturday.

They sheltered themselves from the harsh sun during the day and climbed up to the highest point to flash distress lights at night, fighting all the time against exhaustion and thirst.

"We were exhausted. We couldn't get any water on the first day as it was sunny. On the second day, we collected rain water in our fins to quench our thirst. We also collected rain water in plastic bottles picked up from garbage," they said.

They were rescued by boat Monday in the Manta Point area off Nusa Penida, some 20km from where they set off.

A fifth diver, Bali-based instructor Saori Furukawa, was picked up by helicopter nearby and has already been discharged from hospital.

The four women who left hospital on Thursday would board a flight back to Japan later in the day, Japanese consular official Kenichi Takeyama told AFP.

"They are physically well but mentally, they are devastated," he added.

Japan's Kyodo news agency named the women discharged as: Emi Yamamoto; Atsumi Yoshidome; Aya Morizono; and Nahomi Tomita.

According to the agency, the dead woman is Ritsuko Miyata and the missing diver is Shoko Takahashi.

Read more on:    bali  |  japan
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