Russian Tourist Dies In Diving Accident

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Posted by on June 05, 2008 at 18:08:27:

In Reply to: Russian Diver Death Due To “Health And Safety Breakdown”: Fellow Diver posted by on June 05, 2008 at 18:06:47:

A Russian tourist died on Thursday morning in a diving accident in South Ari Atoll, with two Maldivian diving instructors hospitalised and eight other tourists treated over the same incident.

The eleven divers suffered medical problems around 8am following a dive from the Baani Adventure safari boat, owned by Touring Maldives Private Limited, on the Raiydhiggaa Thila reef.

The cause of the accident is so far unknown, though a local trainer of diving instructors said it was “likely to relate to the equipment” given that all eleven divers were affected.

According to executive director at the Tourism Ministry Mohamed Waheed, the accident is being investigated by police and the Divers’ Alert Network (DAN), the main association that assures diver safety in the Maldives.

The Russian, a 36-year-old man, had died by 10:30am, though the time and cause of his death have not been confirmed.

Two Maldivian instructors remain in hospital, one in the intensive care unit and one in the emergency ward, according to a spokesman for Touring Maldives. Both are in a stable condition.

All the divers were treated at Malé’s Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital after being transferred there by air taxi and launch. The dead man has been taken to the Malé mortuary, and his family have been informed of the death.

None of the remaining divers, who include several Germans, needed to be taken for decompression treatment, Waheed said. Maldives has two decompression chambers, on Bandos and Kuramathi islands.

The diving trainer said the fact that all eleven divers became ill meant decompression sickness was unlikely to have been the problem. “With decompression, people differ,” he said.

The sickness occurs when divers fail to obey guidelines on depth and timing of dives, particularly when they surface too quickly. It results in excess nitrogen causing bubbles in the blood.

Other causes of diving accidents include lung expansion, caused by holding the breath when ascending, and air poisoning, caused by faulty equipment.

Victims were treated at the scene by a doctor from the Conrad Rangali Island resort, whose dive team also attended, along with the coast guard. Waheed noted the Tourism Ministry’s “appreciation” of the resort’s help.

Maldives is one of the world’s most popular dive destinations, with every resort catering for scuba divers, according to the Maldives Tourism Promotion Board. But exact statistics for yearly dives are not available.

Asked whether the incident would affect the reputation of the country’s tourism industry, which generates about 30 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), Waheed said that would “depend on the outcome of the investigation”.

But the government promised to move swiftly to take “more preventive measures” if the investigation found it was required. “And we will immediately inspect all safari vessels if necessary,” Waheed added.

Diving accidents are rare in the country, he said, and generally affect individual divers rather than groups.

Resort diving facilities are inspected once per year by Tourism Ministry staff, whilst dive schools must undergo inspections each time they renew their licence.

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