A rescue mission has been launched off the coast of Malaysia after a 46-year-old man,a 14-year-old boy, an 18-year-old French woman, and a 35-year-old Norweigan woman have disappeared while diving.
The missing people were on a diving training exercise off Pulau Tokong Sanggol, near Mersing, when they “failed to return” during the exercise.
Coastguard official Nurul Hizam Zakaria said Malaysia’s Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) was alerted at about 2.45pm local time (6.45am GMT).
The island where they disappeared, Pulau Tokong Sanggol, is about nine miles off the coast.
A hunt involving boats from the coastguard, the police and the fisheries department has been launched.
Mr Zakaria said in a statement: “The divers were reported missing by the boat captain who took them out to sea.
“The SAR operation, initiated as Op Carilamat, was activated at 2.45pm involving assets from MMEA, the Marine Police Force and the Malaysian Fisheries Department.”
Mr Zakaria later provided an update in which he said: “A forward operating base has been set up at the Mersing District Council public jetty.
“Ss of 4pm, none of the divers have been found.”
Malaysia’s borders reopened to tourists last week, after a two-year closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The tropical destination is popular among tourists for its white sand beaches and rainforests.
While diving accidents are rare in Malaysia, they have been known to claim lives.
A British tourist died in 2013 when she was struck by a passing boat’s propeller, while diving off resort islands in the South China Sea.
In 2018, six divers from Malaysia’s Fire And Rescue Department died in a whirlpool in a lake in Malaysia while trying to rescue a missing boy.