Four divers heading home after ordeal off Bali

Kyodo, AFP-JIJI

Four of the five Japanese women rescued some 75 hours after their seven-member group disappeared while scuba diving off Indonesia’s Bali Island were discharged from hospital on Thursday, while the search continued for one still missing.

Ngurah Jaya Kusuma, medical services and nursing director of Sanglah International Hospital in Bali, told a press conference the four survivors are still in pain from their injuries and sunburn, but were deemed well enough to leave the hospital.

Atsumi Yoshidome, 29, Aya Morizono, 27, Emi Yamamoto, 33, and Nahomi Tomita, 28, were scheduled to fly to Japan in the evening, he said. All except Yamamoto are nurses at Kobe University Hospital.

In a joint statement, the four women said they worked hard to keep each others’ spirits up after huge waves and storms pushed them onto rocks, miles from where they had set off.

“We told each other that we will go home alive. We encouraged each other by saying we could keep going because we had already survived drifting in the water for 28 hours,” they said.

They set off Friday from Nusa Lembongan island, just east of Bali, but soon got lost. After drifting for a long time, they were slammed against the rocks near the coast and then “swallowed by big waves three to four times”.

A fifth survivor, local diving instructor Saori Furukawa, 37, is believed to have been discharged from another hospital on Tuesday evening.

Furukawa said Wednesday in email responses to the media that the divers were caught in foul weather and swept away by strong currents while on an outing on Feb. 14 near Nusa Lembongan Island, southeast of Bali.

They were found on the rocky coast of a nearby island.

Rescuers are still searching for another local instructor, 35-year-old Shoko Takahashi, while Ritsuko Miyata, 59, the eldest in the group, was found dead Tuesday in waters near Bali.

The search operation is set to end within the day.