Johor Sultan suspends diving activities after tragedy

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency director Nurul Hizam said the victim was in a stable condition and did not suffer any serious injury. Three others are still missing.


Safe and sound: Grodem arriving at Mersing Stadium via helicopter before being transferred to Mersing Hospital for further treatment. — Bernama

April 8, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR – One of the four European divers who went missing off the Pulau Tokong Sanggol waters here has been rescued, some 20 hours after a search and rescue mission was launched and about 55km away from the dive site.

The other three, two of them teenagers, are still missing.

The four were last seen in Pulau Tokong Sanggol before a scuba diving exercise near the island, which is nine nautical miles (16km) from the Johor mainland.

A search and rescue operation was mounted at 2.45pm on Wednesday.

Dive master Kristine Grodem, 35, from Norway, was spotted floating by crew of a tugboat, which was on its way to Thailand from Indonesia at around 8.15am at Tanjung Sedili waters near Kota Tinggi, some 30 nautical miles away.

“The tugboat crew pulled her out from the sea. She was in her wetsuit and diving gear. Grodem was then airlifted to Mersing Hospital,” Johor Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) director First Admiral Nurul Hizam Zakaria told a press conference here yesterday.

Nurul Hizam said the victim was in a stable condition and did not suffer any serious injury.

He also said the authorities would continue with the operation to find the other three divers: British national Adrian Peter, 46, his Dutch national son Nathan Renze, 14, and a French woman Alexia Alexandra, 18.

Nurul Hizam said the search area would cover 107 nautical miles at sea and another 270 nautical miles in their air with focus around southern area from Pulau Tokong Sanggol.

“We have also informed our Singapore and Indonesian counterparts for assistance. We believe the three may be drifting south,” he said.

The Marine Department has informed passing vessels to be on the lookout for the divers.

Johor Sultan suspends diving activities after tragedy-a2

Photos of the missing, excluding Grodem (top left).

State police chief Comm Datuk Kamarul Zaman Mamat said the skipper of the boat that took the divers to the location had been arrested for drug abuse.

“We called him in to have his statement recorded at the Mersing district police headquarters on Wednesday.

“A urine test on the man, in his 20s, came back positive for drugs,” he said, adding that the police were investigating all angles including negligence.

Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi, who visited the search and rescue operation centre, said he was glad that Grodem had been found safe.

He said the other three were her students and it was not the first time they had gone scuba diving.

“They came here to obtain a higher diving licence. Their family members are on the way here. We will inform the respective embassies and provide them with the latest updates,” he said.

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