Search for missing Singaporean diver in Indonesia to resume on Saturday morning

Ms Rinta Paul Mukkam's brother, Roy Paul Mukkam, posted this picture on his Facebook on Thursday (July 13) evening, asking for help and information. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ROY PAUL MUKKAM

INDONESIA - A second day searching for missing Singaporean diver Rinta Paul Mukkam turned up naught as night fell on Friday (July 14), with the Indonesian authorities pledging to continue the effort on Saturday morning.

Ms Rinta, 40, had been diving off the famed Komodo islands on Thursday when she failed to surface with her group. Search and rescue efforts have so far spanned a radius of over 200km.

Ms Rinta had not returned from a dive at a dive site off Gili Lawa Laut island at around 11.40am on Thursday.

According to one woman in the same group of 16 Singaporeans, the boat had dropped them off at the dive spot and left.

Ms Rinta, believed to be a 40-year-old associate regional sales manager, did not surface with the rest of the divers, said the woman, who declined to be named.

She added that the weather had been sunny and that they had been briefed by the dive master to be prepared for a drift dive - where divers are carried by the current.

The divers had been split into smaller groups for the dive. It is unclear what happened to Ms Rinta's "buddy". Divers typically dive in groups of two or three as a safety precaution, with a buddy system where members look out for and help each other.

According to those familiar with the area, Gili Lawa Laut, a popular diving spot, is also known for strong currents and relatively cold waters.

The head of rescue agency Badan SAR Kupang (Basarnas), Mr Gede Ardana, told Indonesian media that his agency received a missing persons report on Thursday at 2.30pm. His agency then sent a team of six rescuers to the location by motorboat.

When the team reached the site, it coordinated with the crew of Seamore Papua - the dive operator of the trip - to conduct a search operation, which was suspended at 6.25pm, when the search was called off due to lack of light.

On Friday evening, Basarnas told ST that Ms Rinta had yet to be found, and the search had again been postponed till 6am on Saturday (July 15).

According to Basarnas, boat operators and Komodo-based dive centres are also helping out with the search. One of them is Pos SAR Mabar, a small search-and-rescue team.

The current search efforts are focused in the region west of Flores Island, which is located in West Manggarai in Indonesia..

Ms Rinta's brother Roy Paul Mukkam, a 36-year-old lawyer, posted on Facebook on Thursday evening asking for help and information. He told The Straits Times that his sister was an experienced diver and had gone on a number of diving trips before. She had left on Wednesday (July 13) and was due to return to Singapore on Monday (July 17).

A spokesman for Seamore Papua said that it is "still collecting information and data" and will provide more updates after the Indonesian authorities have released a statement on the incident.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.