Rescuers search for Japanese divers missing off Bali

BBC NEWS ASIA – 15 February 2014 Last updated at 11:13 ET

Indonesian rescuers have been searching for seven Japanese divers missing off the island of Bali since Friday.

The search for the group, which includes two instructors, was halted on Saturday evening and will resume on Sunday morning.

The seven, all experienced divers, disappeared in bad weather while exploring an area of mangroves.

Conditions were reported to be bad at the time the group disappeared, with heavy winds and strong rains.

“A helicopter was deployed … to spot victims who might be floating in the water. We have still not found any,” Bali search and rescue agency chief Didi Hamzar told AFP.

“We are putting our best efforts and hopefully we can find them in safe conditions,” he added.

The group were diving near the island of Nusa Penida, a small island some 20km (12 miles) off the coast of Bali itself.

They had gone for two diving trips on Friday morning but failed to return after a third trip in the afternoon.

The Japanese Kyodo agency quoted government officials as saying all members of the party had completed at least 50 dive trips previously, while the instructors were based locally and so knew the area.

Nusa Penida, popular with divers because of crystal clear waters and the opportunity to see rare Ocean Sunfish, is known for treacherous currents. A number of fatal accidents have occurred there.

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