Seven experienced scuba divers went missing on their dive off the coast of Bali on Friday, Feb. 14 and were eventually rescued. Five of the divers were tourists and two were instructors, and all of them were Japanese women ranging in age from 27 to 59 years old. The women entered the water in a dangerous, but beautiful place southeast of Bali close to the islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. This area is apparently dangerous because of the unpredictability of several natural elements; it is recommended to experienced divers only because of the unpredictable water currents. Also, October to April in Bali is monsoon season, when strong winds and heavy rainfall plague the area.
The captain of the divers’ ship reported that when they first entered the water and descended the weather was good, but 15 minutes later clouds built up. Heavy rains began pelting down farther in the dive, making rescue attempts difficult. The captain said he attempted to find the ladies, but could not, due to a sudden downpour. He moved his boat to the rendezvous spot a hundred meters away. When the women did not re-surface, the captain combed the area for an hour before reporting what had happened. However, Didi Hamzar, chief of the search and rescue team in Bali, said that he had obtained information that the captain had run of out fuel and had to fill up before returning to the meeting spot; the captain is not employed by Yellow Scuba, the company that organized the dive, and hired their boat for the women.
Putu, the owner of Yellow Scuba, explained that he had no clue what had happened to the women and that the company had “stopped all dives for now.” The dive in which the women did not ascend was their third, and they all had logged over 50 dives prior to this one.
Around 80-100 people have helped search for the divers, and Nyoman Sidakarya, head of the search team, said that they will continue to hunt for the women until seven days after the incident, which is common procedure for the area. Heavy rains on Saturday hindered rescue efforts and continued rain and bad conditions on Monday thwarted the team from using their helicopter.
A few family members of the missing divers arrived in Bali on Sunday from Japan on Sunday, hoping for the rescue of their loved ones. A mother of one of the ladies told authorities that her daughter, Shoko Takahashi, “is an active person with a dependable personality” and “never does foolhardy things.”
There is good news glinting in this accident; five of the missing scuba divers in Bali have been found alive and rescued three days after they went missing clinging to a coral reef in stormy waters. The women were about 20 kilometers from where they had originally set off. Local fishermen noticed the women but could not get to them because of the rough sea. A while later, one of the ladies was picked up by a helicopter which dropped food to the rest of the marooned divers. The other four were going to be rescued by the search and rescue team’s boat and taken to the beach in Semawang in southern Bali. It is not recorded if the search will continue for the two remaining women or what injuries the five sustained, if any. Nature continues to baffle and batter those who think they know it well.
By Rachel Fike