24 August 2005

Another diver goes missing off Dorset

A young diver went missing off the Dorset coast on 22 August after a dive on the 32m-deep Kyarra wreck. It is the second disappearance this month to have occurred at the site, a mile off Anvil Point.

The 22-year-old male diver was on an early-morning dive with a group aboard the charter boat Killer Prawn. According to the Coastguard, he was seen to surface before sinking.

After surfacing the diver is reported to have held on to his surface marker buoy, with his mask removed. Eye contact is reported to have been made and no indication given that the diver was in difficulty.

But, when he attempted to move from the buoy to a rope trailed by the dive boat to pull him in, the diver sank from view. An immediate diving rescue attempt was not possible as the diver had been the first to surface. The boat skipper put out an emergency call and stood by to retrieve the other divers.

Searches were carried out all day. The Coastguard's Solent and Portland helicopters were backed by numerous vessels including the dive boats Killer Prawn and Swanage Diver, a police boat, and RNLI inshore and offshore lifeboats from Swanage, Poole, Mudeford and Weymouth.

Searches were called off the following morning. Mark Rodaway, Coastguard Area Operations Manager for Southern England, said: "Portland Coastguard have co-ordinated a thorough search of the predicted drift areas using a large number of dedicated SAR assets and we are confident that had the diver been on the surface, there is a good chance that he would have been detected."

Underwater searches will now be made and, since the Kyarra is a regularly visited wreck, divers will be asked to look out for signs of the missing man. Rodaway added that police divers from Sussex Diving Support Team are considering using sidescan sonar as a search tool.

On 4 August a female diver, aged 48, went missing while ascending from the Kyarra. Sea searches failed to locate her, as did underwater searches by staff from Divers Down, operator of Killer Prawn which was again the dive boat involved. Sadly, Divers Down staff now face searching the seabed for a missing diver for the second time in a month.

The company has received full backing from the Coastguard, which has stated that the crew of Killer Prawn followed correct procedures in handling both emergencies. The boat was judged to meet all Coastguard requirements.

Source: www.divernet.com


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