Five Japanese divers were found alive on Monday three days after disappearing in stormy waters off Bali as bad weather hampered rescue efforts for the two others still missing.
Exhausted and sunburnt, the women were spotted by fishermen clinging to a coral reef in rough waters some 20 kilometers from where they set off for a diving expedition near Nusa Lembongan, southeast of Bali, last Friday.
The fishermen could not rescue the divers because the waves were too high, so they alerted authorities. A rescue helicopter was able to pull 27-year-old Saori Furukawa, who had been separated from the others, to safety. Furukawa seemed in “quite good health” and even helped in rescuing her companions, authorities said.
Two rescuers leapt into the water to reach the others and brought them water and food. They were picked up by a rescue boat to take them to Semawang beach in southern Bali.
“There were five found atop a large coral reef,” Rudi Tjandi, an official from the Bali disaster agency, told reporters.
“The waves and current were quite strong, so the fishermen who spotted them couldn’t approach.”
The five survivors were rushed to hospital in Bali for minor abrasions. None of the divers were in serious condition, officials said.
Local police chief Nyoman Suarsika said the divers were found at Manta Point off the west coast of Nusa Penida island, just east of Bali.
The fate of the two missing divers was still unknown on Monday night, but searching is to continue today.
Relatives of those missing had flown to Bali to await news about their loved ones.
“I’m praying for her safety,” the mother of missing instructor Shoko Takahashi told reporters in Japan before leaving for Bali, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun daily.
“She is an active person with a dependable personality. She never does foolhardy things.”
The women have yet to speak of how they survived three days drifting at sea, battered by wind and rain.
By Maesie Bertumen