Missing Norwegian diver rescued off Mersing coast, search for 3 others ongoing
All four had surfaced after diving, but drifted apart due to strong currents.
MERSING: A Norwegian woman who was part of a group of four divers that went missing off the coast of Mersing in Johor has been rescued on Thursday (Apr 7) morning.
Ms Kristine Grodem, 35, was located near Pulau Aur and was transferred by a Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) helicopter to the Mersing town at around noon.
She appeared fatigued, but was still able to walk to a nearby ambulance after the helicopter landed.
Speaking at a press conference at around 1pm, Johor MMEA director First Admiral Nurul Hizam Zakaria said Ms Grodem was located at around 8.15am on Thursday by a cargo vessel which was travelling from Indonesia to Thailand.
He added that Ms Grodem has been sent to a hospital for treatment.
She was in a stable condition and sustained no serious injuries, he said.
Rescuers are now focused on locating the remaining three divers - British national Adrian Peter, 46, French woman Alexia Alexandra, 18, and Dutch boy Nathen Renze, 14, said 1st Adm Nurul Hizam.
"Our search will now be focused on the southern part of the Mersing islands, around 270 nautical miles (from their diving site)," he said.
"We hope that the remaining three divers will be found soon," he added.
ALL DIVERS SURFACED BEFORE DRIFTING APART
MMEA's 1st Adm Nurul Hizam added that the four divers went missing due to strong underwater currents.
He said that according to the account shared by Ms Grodem, all four divers had surfaced from their dive at around 12.45pm on Wednesday, but they drifted apart due to the currents.
He explained that Ms Grodem tried to scream, whistle and wave to get the attention of their boat operator, but the divers had drifted too far away.
The divers were then separated from each other.
Mersing police commanding officer Supt Cyril Edward Nuing told reporters at the press conference that there was still a "very good chance” of locating the remaining three divers alive, given that they had surfaced from their initial dive and possibly still had their diving vest and fins with them.
"Based on what has been recounted by (Ms Grodem), the remaining three divers had successfully surfaced," said Mr Cyril.
"So with the equipment that was on them and based on their diving experience, the chances of finding them alive now are very big," he added.
Earlier on Thursday, Johor chief minister Onn Hafiz Ghazi confirmed that the four divers went missing during a dive session at about nine nautical miles from Tanjung Leman, Mersing, on Wednesday.
Mr Onn Hafiz, who was speaking to the media at the rescue operation staging area in Mersing, said the group comprised one instructor and three divers who were upgrading their skill certification.
Ms Grodem was the instructor.
Mr Onn Hafiz added that 90 personnel, including 30 divers, are involved in the search and rescue operation and pledged that officials will do everything to locate the missing divers "as soon as possible".
Two helicopters and 18 rescue boats are involved in the operation, he added.
"My message to the families (of the divers) is, we are doing all that we can in terms of search and rescue and we will do our best to find them as soon as possible," Mr Onn Hafiz said.
"We will keep their families updated as soon as we can," he added.
Local media reported on Wednesday that the four foreign nationals disappeared during a dive at Pulau Tokong Sanggul near the holiday island resort of Pulau Sibu, off Mersing.
The rescue operation commenced at 4pm on Wednesday but was paused in the evening due to bad weather.