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3 British scuba divers missing off coast of Indonesia island PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 07 June 2008

Times Online

Three Britons are among five scuba divers who have been missing for more than a day after being swept away by treacherous currents of a remote island in Indonesia.

The three British divers and two others from France and Sweden, have not been seen since entering the waters of the Komodo National Park in the Nusa Tenggara islands.

The British divers were named locally as Kathleen Mitchison, Charlotte Allin and James Manning. The other two are Helena Naradainen from Sweden and Lauren Pinel from France.

Ms Mitchison, a qualified dive master, was leading a group of eight divers, who went out at 3pm local time (8am BST) yesterday to Patawa Bay. They were on a local boat called Setuka which an Indonesian captain and two crew.
Three of the drivers are believed to have returned to safety to the boat but the other are believed to have been caught in strong currents.

The group was diving with a company called Reefseekers owned by Ms Michison and her husband, Ernest Lewandowski.

Mr Lewandowski said that the search was being hampered by a lack of fuel for aircraft. “We’ve got a big search operation happening here but we’re having trouble getting aircraft to fly because of fuel problems,” he said.

Nurdin Nero, a dive master at Reefseekers, said: “They were caught in very, very strong current which runs from north to south in low tide. They are searching for them but there is no trace so far. We are very worried.”

Indonesian police said this morning that they were growing increasingly concerned for the four women and one man.

Butje Hello, police chief of the Manggarai Barat district, said: “A rescue team from the Indonesian police and navy conducted a search this morning for the five missing foreigners but there has been no result so far.”

The Komodo National Park is a popular diving destination which is well known for spectacular coral and marine life as well as strong currents.

The park’s website says the island offers “fantastic diving and snorkelling” but warns divers that: “Strong currents and sometimes down-currents can be experienced.”

The Foreign Office said it was aware of the situation. A spokeswoman said: “We are providing the appropriate consular assistance, including liaison with the local authorities in the search.”

Komodo National Park is located in the centre of the Indonesian archipelago, between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores. It was established in 1980, initially to conserve the unique Komodo dragon.

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