Two European divers rescued in Malaysia, one still missing

Two European divers rescued in Malaysia, one still missing
FILE

Agency Report

A British man and French teenager were rescued in Malaysia Saturday three days after going missing while diving, but the man's son was still missing, police said.

The trio and their instructor got into trouble Wednesday after they surfaced from a dive near a southern island but could not find their boat.

The Briton, 46-year-old Adrian Peter Chesters, and Frenchwoman Alexia Alexandra Molina, 18, were discovered by local fishermen and picked up by marine police, said local police chief Cyril Edward Nuing.

"We have rescued two divers that were reported missing while doing scuba diving activities," he told a press conference in the coastal town of Mersing, the base for search operations.

"They have survived, and are now in hospital in a stable condition."

They were found off the southern state of Johor after drifting a substantial distance from their dive site and were taken to hospital in the city of Pasir Gudang.

Chesters's son, 14-year-old Nathen, who holds Dutch citizenship, remains missing and search and rescue operations are continuing, he said.

The instructor, 35-year-old Norwegian woman Kristine Grodem, was rescued Thursday and admitted to hospital in a stable condition.

The search and rescue operation has expanded, with helicopters, a plane, boats, divers and jet skiers looking at a large area.

Nuing said officials would now focus their efforts further south, towards neighbouring Singapore and Indonesia.

- 'Strong girl' -

Authorities did not immediately give details on how the three survived a long period drifting at sea.

Previously, officials had expressed hope the divers would be found alive as they had substantial experience and were well-equipped, including with a diving buoy.

They also said that light rains in recent days might help the divers survive by providing drinking water.

On Thursday, the French teen's mother Esther Molina told AFP from Mersing that the family were "hoping for the best. She's a strong girl, she'll kick ass".

Grodem had been instructing the divers close to a small island, Tokong Sanggol, about 15 kilometres (nine miles) off Malaysia's southeast coast, when the accident happened.

After a dive lasting about 40 minutes, they surfaced but could not find their boat. They drifted together in strong currents, but ended up getting separated.

The captain of the boat who took them to the dive site has been arrested after testing positive for drugs.

Resort and boat operators in the area have been asked to halt diving and snorkelling activities to make conditions easier for search and rescue teams.

The area where the accident happened is popular with foreign and domestic visitors -- resorts dot the coast and the islands.

Diving accidents, while rare, do occasionally happen in Malaysia.

In 2013, a British tourist died when she was struck by a passing boat's propeller while diving off resort islands in the South China Sea.

The tropical Southeast Asian nation's borders reopened to foreign tourists on April 1 after a two-year coronavirus closure, and thousands of visitors have arrived.

AFP

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