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Miraculous: 5 Missing Divers Found after 48 Hours' Hovering Between Life and Death


By WcP.Observer - Posted on 08 June 2008

divers receive medical treatments at a clinic in Labuhan Bajo

(quote)

They will always remember it as the most terrifying 48 hours of their lives. Five divers who were missing for two days off Indonesia, have described how they were plunged from one life-threatening crisis into another after being swept away by strong currents. The rescued group hugged and wept tears of joy on Saturday after first surviving for nine hours in treacherous, shark-infested seas and then fighting off the world's largest and most deadly lizards on a remote island. The divers, who had clung to a log in the sea to prevent them from drowning, were found by national park rangers on an island inhabited by Komodo dragons, carnivores capable of killing humans. The exhausted, dehydrated, sun-burnt and hungry group had to throw rocks to repel the most persistent reptile as it repeatedly tried to attack them. Komodo dragons grow up to 10ft long and can kill animals more than twice their size, including water buffalo.

The five vanished, and were feared dead, after a dive off Tawa Besar island inside the Komodo National Park on Thursday. They were swept 25 miles away from their original position by fierce currents. The three rescued Britons are Charlotte Allin, 24, and her boyfriend Jim Manning, 30, both from Devon, and Kathleen Mitchinson, who was living in Indonesia. The other divers, Helena Naradainen who is Swedish, and Laurent Pinel, who is French, are also safe.

Kathleen Mitchinson embraces husband Ernest Lewandowsky as she and other divers arrive on Flores island in Indonesia

Mr Pinel, 31, said yesterday that the party had been in the water for about nine hours before reaching land. He told how the group lived off mussels scavenged from the beach and had to repel a Komodo dragon during the 36 hours they waited to be spotted on Rinca, a tiny island. Mr Pinel said that while in the water the group had struggled against a strong rip tide for several hours, but eventually they stopped swimming and tied themselves together by their diving vests to conserve energy. Late on Thursday night, they saw a small island and desperately tried to reach land before they were swept out of the relative protection of the Nusa Tenggara island chain.

After swimming to land, the group spent two nights on Rinca, before being found by members of a 30-strong rescue party, which included Frank Winkler, a German, who runs another dive club. He was hailed as a hero for identifying where the party was most likely to be found. Mr Winkler, said : "It was a simple calculation, a little bit of luck. I thought, 'They finished their dive with a tide that was heading to the south, there was no way they were heading to the north.' So it was a couple of calculations, five knots an hour, so we just followed the route, and we calculated the current, the rising tide that was later coming from the south, and we calculated that they could be in that area." He described the moment the party was located. "I was driving the boat and I told my captain, 'Please look in that direction, they should be somewhere there'. And somebody was waving on the shore, standing on the rocks somewhere there. Of course it was an amazing moment after several hours."

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of AFP/GETTY and Oby Lewanmeru/Associated Press

Original Source: Telegraph

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