Missing British divers found alive

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The Independent Online

Three Britons who failed to return from a diving trip off Bali two days ago have been found alive, relieved relatives said today.

Ernest Leandowski, the husband of Kathleen Mitchinson who was leading the dive, told the Press Association all five missing divers, including the three Britons, had been found alive.

"They have been found, they are alive and are now on their way to get medical assistance. That is all I can say at this stage as I have not yet spoken to my wife," he said.

Britons Mrs Mitchinson, Charlotte Allin and James Manning, along with two other divers believed to be from France and Sweden, had been missing since 3pm local time (8am BST) on Thursday.

The alarm was raised after the group failed to return following a dive off the remote Komodo National Park in Indonesia.

Miss Allin's father, Dave Allin, told the Press Association: "We know that they have been found. It is fantastic news. It has been a very long night.

"I haven't spoken to Charlotte yet and we don't know what their medical condition is - they have been floating out there for two days. We are still waiting for news of how they are."

Mr Allin said he understood that the divers had been taken by boat to a medical centre on the island of Flores.

"I gather that they have managed to walk under their own steam which is a good sign, but I don't know any more than that," he added.

Speaking from the family home in the village of Northam, near Bideford, Devon, he said: "We have all the family over here. There are about 12 of us including the grandparents and we are all celebrating.

"We have been sitting around waiting for news all night. It is pretty emotional as you can imagine."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "By all accounts all five have been found by Indonesian fisherman."

The diving expedition was organised by the Reefseekers diving centre, which is run by Mrs Mitchinson and based in Labuan Bajo, a small fishing town on the Indonesian island of Flores.

The waters off the isolated park are attractive to divers but the area boasts strong and unpredictable currents which can create challenging conditions.

During an emotional phone call to her parents, Charlotte Allin, 25, said she was tired and dehydrated but fine except for a few cuts and bruises on her feet.

Her mother Sue said: "I didn't believe that she was all right until I heard her voice."

Her father Dave added: "We are very happy. She's a bit dehydrated and exhausted.

"She didn't really understand what all the fuss was about."

He added: "We just want to get them home now."

Mr Allin said Charlotte and her boyfriend James Manning, 30, were diving instructors who had been teaching scuba diving in Phi Phi, Thailand, for about two years.

He said they would be coming home soon and joked that he would "lock her up" to keep her safe.

He said the group of divers were thought to have drifted about 25 miles.