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Jakarta Post

Japanese divers missing in Nusa Penida

  • Ni Komang Erviani

    The Jakarta Post

Denpasar   /   Sun, February 16, 2014   /  10:12 am

Bad weather on Saturday hampered rescuers in the search for seven Japanese people who went missing after a diving session at the famous dive spot of Crystal Bay in Nusa Penida, Klungkung regency, Bali, on Friday.

The seven are Miyata Ritsuko, Yamamoto Emi, Tomita Nahomi, Morizono Aya, Yoshinode Atsumi, Shoko Takahashi and Furukawa Saori.

Nusa Penida Police chief Comr. Nyoman Suarsika said on Saturday that the diving operator filed a report with the police at around 7 p.m. on Friday about the missing persons. Suarsika said that two of the seven were professional divers, while the other five were tourists.

The group departed from Sanur on Friday at 8 a.m. on the Ocean Express boat, with two crew members, Agustinus and Gede Sukadana.

They started their diving session at Crystal Bay in Nusa Penida at 1 p.m., but were not seen again after that time.

'€œWhen they started diving, the weather was reportedly very bad due to strong winds and heavy rain,'€ Suarsika said, adding that the two local crew members were fine as they were waiting on the boat while the Japanese divers went underwater.

The police and the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) deployed a team on Saturday morning to find the missing divers.

Head of Basarnas Denpasar, Didi Hamzar, said that his team had also deployed a helicopter to search for the victims up to the Nusa Dua area.

'€œAs many as 80 people, comprising Basarnas members, police officers, military personnel and the diving operator'€™s crew members, were involved in the search,'€ Didi said.

Bad weather, however, hampered the search. As of Saturday evening, none of the seven people had been found. The team will continue the search on Sunday morning.

Didi said that the victims may have been carried by a strong downward current in Nusa Dua waters.

Crystal Bay is a small inlet on the westernmost point of Nusa Penida. It is popular among divers for its crystal clear waters and the chance to discover Nusa Penida'€™s famous Mola mola (oceanic sunfish) at a depth of about 30 meters, as well as beautiful coral beds at depths of 20 meters. However, due to the strong current, the location is recommended only for experienced divers.

In August 2012, a Japanese tourist, Ai Tanaka, also went missing following a diving session at Crystal Bay. The man was found dead several days after the incident. A few days later, Danish diver Hendrik Kent Jensen, 43, was found dead during a diving session in the same area.

The deaths forced the local police to temporarily close the beach.