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Indonesian Rescuers Search for 7 Missing Japanese Divers



A rescue team searches for seven Japanese tourists who went missing after leaving for a scuba diving trip in waters off Bali


BALI – Indonesian rescuers on Saturday discovered a body believed to be one of seven Japanese divers reported missing while diving near a small island off the resort island of Bali.

Nusa Penida is about 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of Denpasar, Bali’s capital.

Police and local rescuers have been combing the waters between Bali and Lombok islands after receiving a report of missing divers from a diving operator Friday evening.

Over the past decade, Bali has seen its popularity soar among foreign divers. Some local dive operators fear news of the missing divers could frighten away some foreign divers.

“This will create an impression that there is a lack of safety among water sport operators in Bali, and will hurt confidence in the aqua-sport industry here,” said I wayan Suanda, operational manager at Aqua Marine Diving in Bali.

Mr. Suanda speculated that the divers may have gone missing because of the unpredictable strong current in their dive site. The divers were in waters near Nusa Lembongan on Friday afternoon during heavy rain and strong wind, police said.

“The current there is very volatile, it can change from calm to turbulent quickly,” Mr. Suanda said.

The divers have been identified as Miyata Ritsuka, Yamamoto Emy, Tomita Nahomi, Marizona Aya, Yahinongde Atsumi, Takahashi Shoko, and Furukawa Saori, said Bali Police spokesman Hariadi, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.

Mr. Hariadi said Ms. Takahashi and Ms. Furukawa are the dive instructors of Yellow Scuba, which organized the dive. Dive instructors in Bali regard them as seasoned dive instructors.

Attempts to contact the company were not successful.

Nusa Lembongan is one of the three islets located southeast of Bali. It is known for its spread of coral reefs and good visibility, but also known for very strong currents that require advanced diving skills.

The police in 2012 urged diving operators to stop taking divers to the site after one Japanese and one Danish tourist were killed while diving there.

Murfi Chan, owner and operational manager of Bali Aqua Diving predicted any negative impact on the local dive industry from the latest incident would be temporary.

“Although diving has some risks, it’s safe so long as you follow the procedures, master the knowledge, and know the diving sites well,” Mr. Chan said.

“Bali has more than 50 diving sites that are safe,” he said, hoping these sites will continue to attract divers.

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