Two European divers rescued in Malaysia, one still missing

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Mersing (Malaysia) (AFP) – A Briton and a French teenager were rescued in Malaysia on Saturday after going missing while diving, but the man’s son was still missing, police said.

The trio and their instructor got into trouble on Wednesday after surfacing from a dive near a southern island but couldn’t find their boat.

Briton, 46-year-old Adrian Peter Chesters, and French woman Alexia Alexandra Molina, 18, were spotted by local fishermen and apprehended by marine police, local police chief Cyril Edward Nuing said.

“We rescued two divers who were reported missing while diving,” he said at a news conference in the coastal town of Mersing, the base for search operations.

“You survived and are now in stable condition in hospital.”

They were found off the southern state of Johor after migrating far from their dive site and taken to a hospital in the town of Pasir Gudang.

Chesters’ son, 14-year-old Nathen, who has Dutch citizenship, remains missing and search and rescue operations are continuing, he said.

The instructor, 35-year-old Norwegian Kristine Grodem, was rescued on Thursday and taken to hospital in stable condition.

The search and rescue operation has expanded, with helicopters, an airplane, boats, divers and jet skiers covering a large area.

Nuing said officials would now focus their efforts further south, toward neighboring countries of Singapore and Indonesia.

‘Strong Girl’

Authorities did not immediately release details of how the three survived a long period at sea.

Earlier, officials had expressed hope the divers would be found alive as they had extensive experience and were well equipped, including a diving buoy.

They also said light rains in recent days could help divers survive by providing drinking water.

On Thursday, the French teenager’s mother, Esther Molina, told AFP from Mersing that the family “hoped for the best. She’s a strong girl, she’s going to kick ass”.

Grodem was briefing the divers near a small island, Tokong Sanggol, about 15 kilometers off the southeast coast of Malaysia when the accident happened.

After a dive of about 40 minutes, they surfaced but could not find their boat. They drifted together in strong currents, but eventually became separated.

The captain of the boat that took them to the dive site was arrested after testing positive for drugs.

Resort and boat operators in the area have been asked to halt diving and snorkeling activities to ease conditions for search and rescue teams.

The area where the accident happened is popular with both foreign and local visitors – resorts line the coast and islands.

Diving accidents, while rare, do happen occasionally in Malaysia.

In 2013, a British tourist died when she was hit by the propeller of a passing boat while diving off holiday islands in the South China Sea.

The tropical Southeast Asian nation’s borders reopened to foreign tourists on April 1 after a two-year coronavirus lockdown, and thousands of visitors have arrived.

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