Skip to main content

Rescuers scour sea for lost European divers

  • Story Highlights
  • Five divers missing off Indonesian islands
  • Divers include three Britons, one Frenchwoman and a Swede
  • Group was diving in an area plagued by unpredictable currents
  • Next Article in World »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Rescue teams were Friday searching for a group of European vacationers who disappeared while on a scuba diving trip in treacherous waters off a remote tropical island in eastern Indonesia.


The waters around the Komodo National Park are plagued by strong currents.

The divers were exploring waters in the Komodo National Park, between the islands of Flores and Sumbawa, when they failed to return from a trip, according to an employee of Reefseekers diving center, which organized the expedition.

Reefseekers named dive master Kathleen Mitchinson, who was leading the group, among the missing. British, French and Swedish citizens were among those missing, the Komodo Divers Association added.

The diving center employee said two groups had entered the waters, which are a popular draw for divers keen to explore an area of unspoiled coral reefs teeming with marine life, but only one returned.

When an initial search failed to locate the second group, authorities were alerted and police and rescue teams called in.

Mitchinson's husband Ernest Leandowski, another dive master who runs Reefseekers, told the AFP news agency that a lack of fuel for aircraft was hampering the search.

"We've got a big search operation happening here but we're having trouble getting aircraft to fly because of fuel problems," he said.

"Time is critical. It's absolutely blistering hot out there."

The UK Foreign Office confirmed three British nationals have been reported missing off the coast of Indonesia. It said it was providing consular assistance and liaising with local authorities involved in the search.

The remote Komodo National Park, billed by holiday firms as a tropical paradise, lies more than 200 miles east for the nearest city, the Bali island capital of Denpasar.

The waters are prone to strong currents and locals say the area has claimed the lives of several divers in the past.

Nearby Komodo island is famous as the only natural home of the Komodo dragon -- giant lizards with toxic bites who have been known to kill humans. Flores meanwhile was recently made famous by the discovery of the remains of a small "hobbit" style human ancestor.

Last month two scuba divers -- a British man and an American woman -- were rescued after spending 20 hours in shark-infested waters around Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print