Malpelo: body found after three divers rescued

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Malpelo: body found after three divers rescued

The body of one of five scuba divers who went missing off the remote Columbian seamount of Malpelo at the start of September is thought to have been found.

According to the Columbian Navy the body, found 140 miles south-east of the island, could be that of Erika Diaz, the one woman in the group.

Three of the divers who became separated from the María Patricia liveaboard were rescued, two of them after spending 48 hours adrift, but experienced instructor Carlos Jiminez, who was leading the group, is still missing.

The divers had reportedly surfaced from their last dive of a six-day trip at a dive-site called the Cathedral when they were caught by powerful currents and swept away towards the south-east of the island. Malpelo, in its exposed position in the eastern Pacific some 300 miles from mainland Columbia, is known for its strong currents.

The Maria Patricia raised the alarm, and a search and rescue operation was mounted by the navy and air force.

First to be rescued was an Australian diver, Peter Morse, who was picked up by the liveaboard Yemaya the following morning. He was said to have been clinging to a rock, after spending some 14 hours overnight in the water.

Columbians Jorge Morales and Dario Rodriguez were adrift for far longer before being rescued – 48 hours.

After being separated from the others they had reportedly used their survival training to stay together and try to keep warm until being spotted by an aircraft and recovered by boat. Apart from the effects of exposure and dehydration, they had been badly stung by jellyfish.

From the end of next year, Malpelo is set to be off-limits to all but vessels operating out of Columbia.

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10-Sep-16

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