TAIPEI – Eight Taiwanese scuba divers have been rescued nearly 48 hours after going missing off the island’s south, the coastguard said on Monday.
As reported byin a remarkable feat of endurance, one of the divers managed to swim ashore and told rescuers where they could find the others, a spokesperson said.
“Five were plucked from the sea by helicopters at dawn Monday and at around 10.47am (02H47 GMT) the last two missing divers were rescued,” the spokesperson said. They all remained conscious but appeared exhausted. They are now hospitalised,” he said.
The six men and two women, all experienced divers, went diving at 10.30am on Saturday near Chihsingyen (Seven Star Rock) off Kenting national park, but failed to return to their boat an hour later as scheduled. After a lengthy wait for rescuers, the group’s coach Ding Bo-ling set off on a more than 10-hour swim for shore, finally reaching land before midnight Sunday at Taimali, 76 kilometres (47 miles) further north.
The remaining divers saved energy by floating on their backs and held hands to avoid being separated, local ERA TV reported. Five helicopters and nine patrol boats had been dispatched for the round-the-clock rescue operations, while the divers’ relatives also hired fishing boats to join the search.
In a similar accident in the area nine years ago, six divers were washed away by strong ocean currents, and four of them were rescued after 30 hours.