23 November 2005

Japanese diver found drifting out to sea by New Zealand rescue vessel

A chance encounter with a police rescue boat saved a young Japanese diver as she drifted out to sea during a weekend scuba trip that went wrong off the coast of the New Zealand capital, Wellington.

Yuki Fujita, 28, from Kobe, went diving for crayfish on Saturday. When she surfaced early from the dive, she couldn't find her diving buddy, the dive group or their boat, local media reported Monday.

She had drifted 4.5 kilometers away from the party near Cook Strait between North and South Islands and was paddling for her life wearing her scuba tank and weight belt in heavy seas.

After 2-1/2 hours adrift, when Fujita, an experienced diver, was out of sight of land, a police search launch suddenly appeared close by -- as it sped to the search zone several kilometers away.

"It was my last hope and I yelled 'help, help' and waved my rescue sausage," she said, referring to the bright orange inflatable plastic strip divers carry to attract attention in an emergency.

She was pulled from the water and only then realized how near she had come to death.

"I started shaking and burst into tears and vowed I would never scuba dive again," she told Wellington daily, The Dominion-Post.

The newspaper reported that about the time of the rescue back in Kobe, her mother, Mieko Fujita, was visiting the shrine at the family grave to pray, a prayer Mrs. Fujita believes helped save her daughter's life.

Source: mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp


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