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Sea like a washing machine: diver

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iol pic wld_INDONESIA-MISSING-DIVERS-SURVIVORS_0217_11

Reuters

A rescued diver, one of seven Japanese divers reported missing, is pictured with medical personnel at Semawang beach in Bali in this still image taken from video. Picture: Reuters TV

Semawang, Indonesia - A Japanese scuba diver who survived three days in waters off Bali after going missing with six other women has told how the weather suddenly turned bad and the sea spun “like a washing machine”.

Saori Furukawa, one of five Japanese divers rescued Monday, gave her dramatic account as rescuers hunted for a woman still missing and a day after a body of one diver was found.

A search for the missing diver, Shoko Takahashi, was unsuccessful Wednesday and officials said they would call off the hunt entirely at the end of the following day if nothing was found.

“I'm not lucky today,” said her husband, who had joined the search, his voice cracking with emotion.

Furukawa said the weather had seemed “serene” when the group set off Friday from Nusa Lembongan, just east of the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

“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.

She said the divers survived the first night by trying to keep each other awake, and also drank from a coconut they found drifting in the sea.

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.

They were found some 20 kilometres (12 miles) from where they set off, although Furukawa was in a different spot to the others.

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.

The missing diver Takahashi and her Indonesian husband, Putu Mahardena Sembah, ran the company Yellow Scuba that took the divers out on the expedition.

Sembah took part in the search Wednesday - although police cautioned that his wife's chances of survival were slim after five days at sea.

He joined some 15 rescuers in three boats, including Japanese friends and relatives who came to Bali to help, and a team in a helicopter scouring the coast.

Setting off from Semawang beach in south Bali, they searched coastal areas of the island and also the around the neighbouring island of Lombok.

But the rescuers returned empty-handed and Bali search and rescue chief Didi Hamzar said in the evening that Thursday would be the final day of the search.

“From now on it is all in God's power, whatever happens God will decide,” said Pudi Tjandi, involved in the search, after he returned to shore Wednesday.

“We can only... hope we will find her.”

The rescued divers were found in the Manta Point area off Nusa Penida island, which is next to Nusa Lembongan.

They are now in hospital in Bali with sunburn and dehydration but doctors say none are in a serious condition.

Sapa-AFP


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