Seven Japanese scuba divers missing off Bali

Kyodo

Seven Japanese women are missing after going scuba diving Friday afternoon off the Indonesian resort island of Bali and a two-day search effort has failed to locate them, police said Saturday.

The seven — five tourists and two Bali-based diving instructors based — have been identified as Ritsuko Miyata, 59, Emi Yamamoto, 33, Nahomi Tomita, 28, Aya Morizono, 27, Atsumi Yoshinobe, 29, Shoko Takahashi, 29, and Saori Furukawa, 27.

They went missing while diving near the Nusa Penida area off the southeastern coast of Bali, according to the Japanese Consulate General in Denpasar.

Japanese officials said all seven women were seasoned divers, having taken part in at least 50 scuba diving tours.

Initial reports said the body of one of the woman had been found in waters where the group went missing, but a Bali police spokesman later denied this.

Local police Chief Nyoman Suarsika said the group left for Nusa Penida on Friday morning. They began diving in the Crystal Bay mangrove area at 1 p.m. and haven’t been seen since, he said.

“The weather was extreme at the time. The wind was strong, with heavy rain,” Suarsika said.

According to the consulate general in Denpasar, the two diving instructors are based on Bali. Japanese diplomats said the seven had chartered a boat.

The vessel’s Indonesian owner reported the women had dived twice in the morning but failed to return after going out for a third outing, in the afternoon. Local police authorities began searching for them Friday after the group was reported missing.

Rescuers called off the search operation after darkness Friday and resumed efforts Saturday using rescue boats and helicopters. Locally based Japanese diving instructors also joined the search, the Japanese diplomats said.