KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia ( Associated Press) — Malaysian authorities began a third day on Friday a search for three Europeans, including two teenagers, who disappeared while diving off a southern island.
Norwegian diving instructor Christine Grodem was expected to be found by authorities after she was rescued on Thursday. He told officials that all four came out safely on Wednesday afternoon but they sped away from the boat and were separated by a strong current.
The group was diving into waters about 15 meters (50 feet) deep on 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 diver is 18-year-old Alexia Alexandra Molina from France; Adrian Peter Chesters, 46, from Britain; and their Dutch son, Nathan Renz Chester, 14.
The authorities have deployed two aircraft, 18 boats and around 90 personnel, including rescue divers, expanding the search area.
Marine officials said Grodem was providing dive training for the other three, who wanted to obtain advanced diving licences.
“Based on his account, three others managed to surface. With his equipment, his full gear and his experience, we believe he has a strong chance of survival,” District Police Chief Cyril Edvard Nuing said on Thursday.
The boat’s captain was taken into custody for further investigation, and the state ruler of Johor suspended diving activities off Mersing. Away from the city are five islands that are popular dive sites for local residents and tourists alike.
Malaysia’s borders reopened to foreigners on April 1 after being closed for more than two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.