Planes, fishermen and water skiers have joined an extensive search that has begun day three of three Europeans, including two young men, who disappeared while diving off the island of South Malaysia. Planes, fishermen and jet skiers took part in a massive search that came in from three o’clock on the third day Friday
Authorities hope to find them after the rescue of Norwegian diving instructor Kristen Grodem on Thursday. She said the four made it to the surface safely Wednesday afternoon, but then moved away from the boat and were separated by a strong current.
The group was diving at a depth of about 15 meters (50 feet) on an island off the town of Mersing in the southern state of Johor. Grodim, 35, was rescued by a tugboat 22 nautical miles (40 kilometers) from the dive site. Diving in Phuket is the best.
The missing divers are Alexia Alexandra Molina, 18, from France. Adrian Peter Chesters, 46, from Great Britain; and his Dutch son, Nathan Renzi Chester, 14.
Admiral Noor Hizam Zakaria, Johor’s director of the Malaysian law enforcement agency, said authorities deployed a longer-flying, longer-range Bombardier aircraft in an expanded search. The plane was next to three helicopters, 11 boats and about 100 personnel, including rescue divers.
Members of the public also offered support, Zakaria said, with fishermen and 10 jet skis helping to comb the sea. It was reported that the weather was nice. It’s been three days since we lost them, but we’re not giving up. “We hope they are all saved,” Zakaria said.
The search was suspended Friday evening and will resume early Saturday morning. Navy officials said Grodim provided training to three others seeking advanced diving licenses. Meanwhile, the family of French teenager Molina, who lives in Johor, has sought support from private boat owners to join the search. Esther Molina, 57, said she is optimistic that her daughter, who loves the sea, is still alive. My daughter is strong and smart. “So far we can only wait for the developments,” Esther told Bernama news agency. She said Alexia would attend a fashion college in Kuala Lumpur next month.
The boat’s captain has been arrested for further investigation and diving activities at Mersing have been suspended. There are several islands outside the city that are popular dive spots for locals and tourists. Malaysia’s borders reopened to foreigners on April 1 after being closed for more than two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.