KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian authorities resumed search for a third day Friday for three Europeans, including two teenagers, who disappeared while diving off a southern island.
Authorities had expressed hope for finding them after Norwegian diving instructor Kristine Grodem was rescued Thursday. She told authorities the four surfaced safely Wednesday afternoon but they drifted away from the boat and were separated by the strong current.
The group was diving in water about 15 meters (50 feet) deep at an island off the town of Mersing in southern Johor state. Grodem, 35, was rescued by a tugboat about 22 nautical miles (40 kilometers) from the dive site.
The missing divers are Alexia Alexandra Molina, 18, of France; Adrian Peter Chesters, 46, of Britain; and his Dutch son, Nathen Renze Chesters, 14.
Authorities have deployed two planes, 18 boats and about 90 personnel, including rescue divers as they expanded the search area.
Maritime officials said Grodem was providing dive training for the other three, who were seeking to obtain advanced diving licenses.
“Based on her account, the three others managed to surface. With their equipment, their full gear and their experience, we believe there is a strong chance of finding them alive,” district police chief Cyril Edward Nuing said Thursday.
The boat’s skipper was detained for further investigation, and Johor’s state ruler suspended diving activities off Mersing. There are five islands off the town that are popular dive spots for local residents and tourists.
Malaysia’s borders reopened to foreigners on April 1 after being closed for more than two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.