YESTERDAY’S search for the three Korean nationals who went diving off Mactan Island amid rough waves last Sunday yielded no result.
“Our hope is that they’re still alive,” said Andy Berame of the Lapu-Lapu City Disaster Management Office.
Male divers Baek Seung Kyoon, 34, and Heo Seung Yung, 45, and female diver Kim Eun, 31, were reported missing four hours after they went diving off Barangay Punta Engaño.
“They are technical divers, so they might have been confident despite the strong waves,” Berame told reporters yesterday.
He said more than 20 divers from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the City and Korean diving groups were dispatched to find the divers.
The Philippine Air Force also promised to send a helicopter to help locate them, Berame said.
The divers were reported missing around 3 p.m. last Sunday. They had left the New Grand Bleu Dive Resort around 11 a.m.
The dive shop is located inside the Palmbeach Resort and Apartelle Inc. in Barangay Punta Engaño.
In a statement, the resort’s lawyer said the missing divers were not guests of the resort.
“The missing Korean divers are guests of Grand Bleu Dive Resort and they are not staying in Palmbeach Resort and Apartelle Inc. Palmbeach Resort and Apartelle Inc. is not involved in any way in the operation of the dive resort,” said lawyer Rester John Nonato.
No representative of the New Grand Bleu Dive Resort was available for interview yesterday.
Berame said the dive shop’s operation has been temporarily stopped while the search operation is ongoing.
“The City may have to require the dive shop to explain why the divers were allowed to go out to sea despite the bad weather,” he said.
Korean Consul General to Cebu Lee Ki-seog coordinated with the PCG, Philippine Air Force (PAF) and Philippine Navy (PN) for the search operations.
Lee thanked the military for sending two helicopters and two patrol boats for the operation.
“Even if there are no findings yet, I really appreciate their efforts,” Lee said.
“Their families are not here (in Cebu). We advised the dive shop owner to inform their families in Korea about the incident,” Lee said.
He said a Korean dive team in Mactan conducted search operations twice the other day but failed to locate the missing divers.
“We contacted the coast guard authorities and the Disaster Risk Reduction Office in Lapu-Lapu City the other day and requested for the immediate search operations. A team was sent but without positive results,” Lee said.
He said the dive shop owners, Korean divers and coast guard divers conducted another search-and-rescue yesterday but still without results.
Commodore Enrico Evangelista of the PCG 7 Command told Sun.Star Cebu that their rescue divers are conducting search operations too.
“The missing Korean divers have not been found yet but the search operation is ongoing,” Evangelista said.
About 20 years ago, also at the seawaters of Mactan Island, Jess Cuenco, the publisher of the defunct Republic News, went missing while diving in the area.