Search for Japanese divers near Bali resumes in bad weather
Volunteers prepare to search for seven missing Japanese tourists at a beach in Sanur on Bali island on February 16, 2014 - by Sonny Tumbelaka
Around 100 searchers have been combing the seas since the five tourists and two instructors -- all Japanese women -- went missing on Friday on their third dive of the day from the island of Nusa Lembongan, just east of Bali.
Bad weather conditions on Monday morning prevented the team's helicopter from joining the operation, Bali search and rescue chief Didi Hamzar told AFP.
Some family members of the missing women arrived in Bali on Sunday, according to Japan deputy consul general in Bali Yasue Katsunobu, and are receiving assistance from Japanese officials there.
"I'm praying for her safety," the mother of missing instructor Shoko Takahashi told reporters in Japan on Sunday before leaving for Bali, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun daily.
"She is an active person with a dependable personality. She never does foolhardy things."
Rescuers beginning the fourth day of their search have found no sign at all of the seven women, who were experienced scuba divers who had logged more than 50 dives each.
The skipper said he was following the divers for some 20 minutes before a sudden downpour made the water cloudy, according to Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
He moved his 10-metre-long boat to a point some hundreds of metres away where the divers were expected to resurface at an agreed time, the report said.
The skipper said he searched for them for an hour before reporting the incident. But Hamzar told reporters on Sunday that he had received information that the skipper had run out of fuel at some point and had to refill before heading to the agreed meeting spot.
Hamzar said that the dive trip operator, Yellow Scuba, had been uncontactable for some time. Calls from AFP to the firm have also gone unanswered.
However, Katsunobu said Japanese officials had been in touch with Yellow Scuba and that the operator had sent its own boats and staff out to assist in the search.
Hamzar said the divers left from Blue Point on Nusa Lembongan, an area recommended only for experienced divers because of its strong currents, which often strike suddenly.
Japan's Kyodo news agency said the missing women were named by police and rescue authorities as: Ritsuko Miyata, 59, Emi Yamamoto, 33, Nahomi Tomita, 28, Aya Morizono, 27, Atsumi Yoshinobe, 29, Shoko Takahashi, 29, and Saori Furukawa, 27.
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