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Waves capsize diving boat; captain dies but others okay

Date Posted: 2005-10-13

Crewmen on a neighboring vessel saw the waves sweep onto a reef just outside Kumejima Town’s harbor Sunday, then watched in horror as they picked up a dive boat and tossed it upside down.

Emergency calls were quickly initiated, and the 11th Maritime Safety Agency responded with planes, ships and helicopters to assess the situation and to make rescues. Five divers were on board the stricken boat, along with the ship’s captain. Officials say only the captain was on deck when the waves struck, as divers were already in the water.

The waves slammed the small vessel onto a reef, then flipped it over. Witnesses say they saw the captain swept overboard. Search efforts continued through the evening Sunday, without success. The captain’s body was found Monday morning when the search resumed. He’d been swept 1.8 kilometers from where his boat was hit. Officials say the captain drowned.

The five divers, meanwhile, were rescued without incident. Clad in diving gear, they’d weathered the rough waves without injury.

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