Search for Japan divers near Bali resumes

2014-02-17 09:38
An Indonesia rescue personnel monitors a rescue team searching for seven Japanese divers missing at a beach in Sanur on Bali island. (Sonny Tumbelaka, AFP)

An Indonesia rescue personnel monitors a rescue team searching for seven Japanese divers missing at a beach in Sanur on Bali island. (Sonny Tumbelaka, AFP)

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Denpasar - The search for seven Japanese divers who went missing near Bali three days ago resumed in bad weather on Monday as distraught relatives arrived on the Indonesian resort island.

Around 100 searchers have been combing the seas since the five tourists and two instructors - all Japanese women - went missing on Friday on their third dive of the day from the island of Nusa Lembongan, just east of Bali.

Bad weather conditions on Monday morning prevented the team's helicopter from joining the operation, Bali search and rescue chief Didi Hamzar told AFP.

Some family members of the missing women arrived in Bali on Sunday, according to Japan deputy consul general in Bali Yasue Katsunobu, and are receiving assistance from Japanese officials there.

"I'm praying for her safety," the mother of missing instructor Shoko Takahashi told reporters in Japan on Sunday before leaving for Bali, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun daily.

"She is an active person with a dependable personality. She never does foolhardy things."

Sudden downpour

Rescuers beginning the fourth day of their search have found no sign at all of the seven women, who were experienced scuba divers who had logged more than 50 dives each.

The skipper said he was following the divers for some 20 minutes before a sudden downpour made the water cloudy, according to Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

He moved his 10m-long boat to a point some hundreds of metres away where the divers were expected to resurface at an agreed time, the report said.

The skipper said he searched for them for an hour before reporting the incident. But Hamzar told reporters on Sunday that he had received information that the skipper had run out of fuel at some point and had to refill before heading to the agreed meeting spot.

Hamzar said that the dive trip operator, Yellow Scuba, had been uncontactable for some time. Calls from AFP to the firm have also gone unanswered.

However, Katsunobu said Japanese officials had been in touch with Yellow Scuba and that the operator had sent its own boats and staff out to assist in the search.

Hamzar said the divers left from Blue Point on Nusa Lembongan, an area recommended only for experienced divers because of its strong currents, which often strike suddenly.

Japan's Kyodo news agency said the missing women were named by police and rescue authorities as: Ritsuko Miyata, aged 59, Emi Yamamoto, aged 33, Nahomi Tomita, aged 28, Aya Morizono, aged 27, Atsumi Yoshinobe, aged 29, Shoko Takahashi, aged 29, and Saori Furukawa, aged 27.

Read more on:    bali  |  japan
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