Missing divers

Search extended to Friday, with more rescuers

Indonesian rescuers have extended by three days - till Friday-their search for two of three missing divers in the waters between Sumatra and Java islands.

This was decided after the operation yesterday yielded no results, said Mr Muhammad Zaenal Arifin, chief of the Banten chapter of the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas). "The focus for the next three days will be on areas in the west of Lampung," he told The Straits Times.

The number of personnel for the search operation will be increased, with additional manpower from the agency's Lampung chapter, he added.

The search operation was first extended last Saturday, when the Indonesian rescue team comprised 180 people, including 19 divers, and four helicopters.

The second extension yesterday followed Monday's discovery of the body of one of the three missing divers in the waters near Lampung province in Sumatra by local fishermen. The body, clad in a diving suit, along with diving equipment, was spotted around 12.9km from Bengkunat port in Pesisir Barat regency of Lampung.

This was dozens of kilometres from where the three men - a Singaporean and two Chinese nationals - first went diving.

The body is around 175cm tall and fair-skinned, while his age is estimated at 50 to 60, according to the police, local media reported. One of the accessories found with the diver was a Suunto dive watch, which was still functioning.

When found, the face of the person was hard to identify, according to Basarnas. The police attributed the description to "swelling and decay", news agency Antara reported.

Upon arriving at the Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta a few hours after it was found, the body was directly transferred to the Kramatjati police hospital for forensic examination.

 
 
 
 

The identification of the body is still being carried out, said police senior commissioner Lisda Cancer, head of the disaster victim identification unit at the National Police.

"We are still examining the body," she told The Straits Times in a text message.

One of the families of the missing trio handed over personal data to the police on Monday, according to local media.

The three divers have been named as Mr Wang Bing Yang, the Singaporean, and Mr Qin Xue Tao and Mr Tian Yu from China. They were among six foreigners who went diving in two groups in Indonesia on Nov 3. Only one group returned to their base on Sangiang Island.

The island is situated in the Sunda Strait, which has strong undercurrents that previously have swept divers away. Boats also often capsize in the area because of high tides. On Sept 8 last year, Jakarta resident James Ade Ignatius Salaka was carried away by an unexpectedly strong undercurrent while diving off Sangiang. The 32-year-old man was later found dead.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2019, with the headline 'Search extended to Friday, with more rescuers'. Print Edition | Subscribe