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A missing British oil executive and his teenage son are feared dead after the pair were abandoned nine miles off the coast of Malaysia during a group training dive by their methamphetamine-taking captain.
Shell engineer Adrian Chesters, 46, and Nathen, 14, were part of a group of four who went diving off the small island of Pulau Tokong Sanggol when their skipper returned to port alone on Wednesday.
The captain gave a statement to police in Mersing, a coastal city on the southeastern tip of the Malay Peninsula, but was later arrested when he tested positive for methamphetamine after a urine sample was taken.
On Thursday, the group’s instructor, Kristine Grodem, was miraculously rescued 30 nautical miles from where she and her fellow divers were stranded.
However, hopes of finding the trio, including British citizens, are quickly fading as dozens of divers, boats and more than 90 officials scour an area stretching for more than miles.
Authorities say the quartet, who were in the water for 40 minutes, “were unable to return after conducting a diving exercise.”
Police have launched an investigation and will assess the diving equipment and location, adding that the captain is being investigated under Section 15(1) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.
Mersing Police Chief Superintendent Cyril Edward Nuing said divers were unable to see their boat when it resurfaced and ended up drifting in strong currents.
“The instructor tried to keep them all together, but they got separated,” he said.
Local officials had suggested they were confident they would find the three missing people because they were “experienced divers”.
Chesters, who is from Sheffield, had just moved his family to the tourist hotspot after working as a senior engineer behind Shell’s successful Appomattox platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
A Foreign Office spokesman has confirmed that he remains in contact with the Malaysian authorities.
The area from which the group initially disappeared is popular with divers and tourists, with dozens of resorts dotted around the coastal area.
At 2:45 p.m. (06:45 GMT) on Wednesday, a hunt was launched involving coast guard boats, police and the fisheries department, senior coast guard official Nurul Hizam Zakaria said in a statement. .
First Admiral Nurul Hizam Zakaria of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said Grodem was found by a tugboat in the waters off Tanjung Sedili in Kota Tinggi, en route from Indonesia to Thailand at 8:15 a.m. m. (2:15 a.m. GMT) “afloat and fully equipped.” with his scuba gear.
“After being found, the 35-year-old victim was transferred to an MMEA helicopter and then taken to Mersing [Stadium] for further treatment,” he reported. She is said to be in stable condition.
But she was postponed to 7:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday due to poor visibility and bad weather.
Helicopters, boats and dozens of divers continue to search for Adrian, Nathan and 18-year-old French teenager Alexia Molina.
Diving accidents, although rare, do occasionally occur in Malaysia.
In 2013, a British tourist was killed when she was struck by the propeller of a passing ship while snorkeling off resort islands in the South China Sea.
The tropical Southeast Asian nation’s white-sand beaches and lush rainforests have long made it a major draw, but the tourism industry has been hit hard by travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
The country’s borders reopened to foreign tourists last week after a two-year closure.
Adrian Chesters Quick and Facts
- Adrian Chesters, 46, and his son Nathen, 14, still missing from Malaysian coast
- Group of four divers went missing after they were ‘abandoned’ by their captain
- Kristine Grodem, 35, was rescued 30 nautical miles from her last known location