Indonesian fishermen find body of one of 3 missing divers

The search area has been progressively widened to cover an area of 1,800 sq nautical miles in the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java islands.
The search area has been progressively widened to cover an area of 1,800 sq nautical miles in the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java islands.PHOTO: BASARNAS

JAKARTA - Indonesian fishermen on Monday (Nov 11) found the body of one of the three missing divers, including a Singaporean, in the waters near Lampung province on Sumatra island.

Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) spokesman Yusuf Latief said the fishermen found the body, clad in a diving suit, along with diving equipment, around 8 miles (12.8km) from Bengkunat port in Pesisir Barat regency, Lampung.

"It's confirmed that it's the body of one of the missing divers. It is being transported from Lampung to Jakarta on a Basarnas helicopter," he told The Straits Times.

Mr Yusuf added that the nationality of the diver is still unknown and further identification will be conducted on Monday afternoon at the Kramatjati police hospital in East Jakarta.

The body is estimated to arrive at Halim Perdanakusuma airport in East Jakarta at around 2.30pm Jakarta time, and will be transferred directly to the hospital, he said.

On Saturday, the seventh day of the search operation, Indonesian rescuers extended their search until Tuesday as their efforts till then had been unsuccessful.

The search area has been progressively widened to cover an area of 1,800 sq nautical miles in the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java islands, which include Lampung waters.

Mr Muhammad Zaenal Arifin, chief of the Banten chapter of Basarnas, told ST on Monday that during the extended period, the team will focus its search on locations where its past effort was not optimal, including areas near Mount Anak Krakatau, Sebesi Island, Sangiang Island, especially its southern part, and coastal areas along Anyer beach and Tanjung Lesung beach.

As of Saturday, the Indonesian rescue team totalled 180 personnel, and four helicopters were deployed to help 19 divers working underwater.

 
 
 
 

The missing trio have been identified as Singaporean Wang Bing Yang and two Chinese nationals, Mr Qin Xue Tao and Mr Tian Yu.

The men were among six foreigners who went diving on Nov 3 in two groups.

They started diving about 1.30pm local time, but only one group returned to the surface at around 2.45pm, Basarnas had said.

The other group did not come back to base on Sangiang island in Banten province, adjacent to Jakarta.

The Sunda Strait, where the island is located, has strong undercurrents which in the past have carried away divers.

Accidents, especially boats capsizing, are also common in the area due to high tides.

On Sept 8 last year, Jakarta resident James Ade Ignatius Salaka was swept away by an unexpectedly strong undercurrent while diving off Sangiang island.

The 32-year old man was later found dead.