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 Four foreigners still missing off Sangalaki Island

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BerichtOnderwerp: Four foreigners still missing off Sangalaki Island    wo 26 aug 2015 - 9:19

The Jakarta Post, August 26 2015

National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) personnel are still searching for four foreigners who have been missing in waters off Sangalaki Island in Berau regency, East Kalimantan, since Aug. 15.

Missing are two Italian women, Daniele Buresta, 36, and Michela Caresani, 33; one Italian man Alberto Mastrogiuseppe, 36; and one Belgian man Chris van Puyvelde, 29.

The four were part of a diving group led by local dive master Oslan. The group also included another Italian woman and man; Valeria Baffe, 34, and Mourizio Rege, 45.

Guided by Oslan, the group went diving in the southern waters off Sangalaki Island at 2 p.m. on Aug. 15 to marvel at colorful coral, manta rays, Hawksbill turtles and green turtles.

At 6 p.m., the divers had still not come back to the boat at the agreed spot.

Oslan was later found by a guesthouse attendant, exhausted, swimming toward Sangalaki Island.

Valeria and Mourizio were safe as they had chosen to snorkel around the speedboat while the others went diving.

Since Aug. 17, a search has been carried out using boats and helicopters.

"The search area covers around 240 square miles inside the circle of the Derawan Islands. The helicopters couldn't fly around it for more than 150 minutes at a time due to limited fuel capacity," said Basarnas operational director Brigjen Ivan AR at Kalimarau Airport in Berau.

He added that there is still no sign of the missing divers.

No less than 100 people joined the search mission, both on the water and in the air.

On the water, Basarnas has deployed its own speedboat, two speedboats owned by Berau Police, the Indonesian Navy border security ship KRI Kerapu and many other local fishermen's boats.

According to Ivan, the emergency response period should have ended on Aug. 22, or after seven days, based on Law No. 29/2013.

"We have extended the emergency response period to ten days. This is because the missing foreigners are from a country that is our friend," said Ivan.

Berau Police head of public relations AKP Marwoto said he is confident the divers are still alive.

"Their diving gear, such as life-vests and fins can help them stay afloat and swim faster. Their diving suit can also prevent them from freezing," said Marwoto.

He added it is possible that the missing divers have tried to swim to safety but have drifted to another island.

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