Six of the seven Japanese divers who went missing during a dive in Bali last Friday have been found.
The women had left from Crystal Bay on the larger island Nusa Penida when they went missing. Crystal Bay is a popular site for seeing Nusa Penida’s famous mola-mola, or ocean sunfish, and is recommended for experienced divers because of its strong downward current.
On Monday, fishermen found four of the divers hanging onto a coral reef 12 kilometres from where they had started their dive and a fifth was found later in the same area. All are safe but suffering from exhaustion and dehydration. On Tuesday, fishermen spotted two other divers clinging to a steep coral cliff but due to the pounding surf, they were unable to land their boat on the island to reach and assist them. Rescue services have since found the body of a sixth diver, and the seventh diver is still missing.
The Skipper’s Story:
According to Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper, the dive boat’s skipper said he was following the divers for some 20 minutes before a sudden downpour made the water cloudy. He moved his 10-metre-long boat to a point some hundred metres away where the divers were expected to resurface at an agreed time.
When they failed to resurface, the skipper said he searched for them for an hour before reporting the incident.
“I’ve been guiding since 2009, and I’ve been to the area many times. Why did this happen?” he said in the report.
But Bali province search and rescue chief Didi Hamzar told reporters on Sunday he had received information that the skipper had needed to refuel before heading to the agreed meeting spot.
The Survivor’s Story:
Saori Furukawa, one of five divers rescued Monday said the weather had seemed “serene” when the group set off Friday from Nusa Lembongan, just east of the Indonesian resort island of Bali. Two of the divers were instructors and the other five all had completed no less than 50 dives.
“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.
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.
She arrived at a rocky outcrop late 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.
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”.
The reason for posting this story is twofold – firstly, to give an account of what happened; the second is to make divers aware that conditions can sometimes be beyond our control, and we need to be prepared. Remember – always carry an SMB and always stick together – at least as buddy pairs on the surface.