2 British divers die at Dwejra this afternoon and a 3rd is rescued

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2 British divers die at Dwejra this afternoon, another is injuredThree persons, all British, found themselves in difficulties whilst diving in the limits of Dwejra, Gozo, today, at about 4.20 pm.

The Police said that two of them, a man and a woman, were pronounced dead at the scene, whilst the other, also a man, was rescued and given medical attention.

Police investigations are still ongoing.

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    42 Responses

    1. Eliza Portelli says:

      How heart breaking. There should be alot of warning signs on the beaches of Gozo. Please warn people about the strong rip currents on Gozo beaches that alot of people are not aware of. These rip currants can drag a person out into the extremely deep part. Another danger are beaches like Mgarr. When your at hip level and you move less than a foot away then suddenly the water is at head level.

    2. Dive Instructor says:

      As a professional dive instructor working many years on the islands of Gozo and Malta (I learned to dive here in Gozo so I am what would be called ‘Home Grown’)) I will say loudly that Malta and Gozo need to ban unaccompanied diving. At present if you are a certified Advanced Open Water Diver (certified by PADI) or of an equivalent certification level by another certification body such as CMAS BSAC NAUI SSI etc, you can come to Gozo, hire diving equipment and go diving without an accompanying Professional. The amount of unaccompanied divers has been on a steady increase yearly here in the Maltese Islands, as too have the accidents and fatalities (not all are of unaccompanied divers but many are). The press often report that ‘Divers’ died after finding themselves in difficulties then little else is ever published about these incidents. Never are the reasons for the divers ‘Finding themselves in difficulty’ investigated, the same applies when reports state that a diver died as a result of ‘medical reasons’ often said to be from an heart attack. Just recently in Xatt L’hamar a female diver died’ if as stated it was from a heart attack it cannot be simply accepted as a plain and simple heart attack. A thorough investigation needs to determine if circumstance of bad diving practices / diving beyond capabilities, caused a person to panic for instance, which then lead to a heart attack. Today’s deaths at Dwejra this afternoon were within a group of 4 divers who had hired their tanks of air from a dive shop on mainland Malta, I gave the van, the divers were using an inspection, I saw no Oxygen / medical kit onboard, also three sets of equipment salvaged during the rescue attempt were checked, 1 tank had 40 bar of air remaining 1 had 50 bar and the third had around 90 bar, obviously air management of the dive needs to be investigated closely as a possible reason for the divers ‘finding themselves in difficulties.’

      The MTA, PDSA and others need to take a close and serious look at the business of ‘Unaccompanied diving here on the islands. if it is not banned the registered and ‘COMPLETELY, legally run’ dive centers also need to either, stop offering the option of Unaccompanied Diving or offer it with strict regulations that are enforced and can be checked, the same way as the dive centers can be spot checked on dive sites. Unaccompanied divers need to have a certified Oxygen and first aid Administrator in their group, be it that they are only two people, they MUST hire an Oxygen supply unit for the duration of their time here, they must have an up to date emergency action plan and fill in the same paperwork that the Dive Centers have to. Plus the divers must have recorded proof of a minimum amount of logged dives that indicates the various experiences of conditions and maximum depths of their diving experience. (I would make the ABSOLUTE minimum number 150 dives) The Dive Centers that hire air and or equipment to these divers must verify the experience of these divers and assume a responsible position, not just ring the cash registers (if they are not avoiding tax that is) All of this is in addition to the dive centers supplying detailed maps of the dive sites that these divers wish to dive at, not a quick sketch back at the dive center just before they leave. All of this will cost a little money to implement sure, and some of that cost would be passed on to the divers, but better for Malta to have a great reputation for diver safety and loose those YAHOO divers who simply want a cheap weeks diving ,who will say nothing UNTIL one or more of there colleagues is seriously injured or worse, DEAD.

      • Dave M says:

        Interesting comments – you say divers should not dive unaccompanied until they have at least 150 dives under their belt, and this should be enforced by the Malta Tourism Authority and the Professional Diving Schools Association. As you mention PADI first, I’m guessing you are a PADI instructor, and therefore sign people off as competent to dive with an equally qualified diver rather than an instructor/DM? Should you not be taking this up with PADI and suggesting divers are limited to PADI Scuba Diver until they have 150 dives? I doubt they would want to know, considering you can be a DM by dive 60 and an instructor by dive 100.

        How would somebody prove 150 logged dives? The PADI medical form is a self certification if you do not have any of the medical conditions listed. If you can lie on that, you can lie in your log book.

    3. Alan Coode says:

      I can only agree wholeheartedly with the heartfelt comments made by the profession diver above. With this many accidents amongst the unaccompanied divers the Maltese authorities need to look seriously at allowing people who don’t understand the conditions or who are unfamiliar with the sites to dive without appropriate professional assistance.

    4. A Whitelark says:

      If all dive schools undertook a risk assessment based on the diving accidents in the last five years there would be enough evidence to conclude that unaccompanied diving was unacceptable in its current form and that dive schools themselves needed to adjust their services accordingly. It is for the dive centers to determine whether the risk involved with unaccompanied diving is too great to loan tanks. It does not necessarily need legislation to bring about this change ….. Just solidarity and integrity

    5. Eliza Portelli says:

      How do you know the problem lies with unaccompanied divers? I’m sure the majority of these divers are very experienced. There should be a full investigation into the matter including the equipment they are receiving. The equiment may be faulty and cheap

    6. Mick Cundy says:

      Just to say in one of the recent incidents the divers were not alone. The three divers lost their lives while diving in Gozo in the space of just five hours. At around 4:20pm a group of divers, of whom at least three were British, were scuba diving in the vicinity of Dwejra when, due to rough seas, found themselves in difficulty. Initially, two of the divers were brought to shore and were certified dead while a search went on for two more divers. A few minutes later, a third diver was also brought to shore and was rushed to Gozo General Hospital while the search continued for the fourth diver.
      While the search was ongoing, news came in that the fourth diver was safe and sound.

    7. Alan Coode says:

      Being alone and unaccompanied are not the same things, it appears they were unaccompanied, see the comments by the dive instructor above who witnessed the incident. Dive instructors from Gozo risked their lives trying to save these unfortunate divers, who if accompanied appropriatly would never had been advised to dive in those conditions in that place.

    8. OLD (BUT NOT BOLD) DIVER says:

      I think that “Dive Instructor” spoils his argument somewhat by being critical of the “air management” on the fatal dives. To surface with 50 or 90 Bar is within the BSAC recommended minimum contents of 50 Bar upon surfacing. 40 Bar? Well, a tad below 50 but still a fair amount and who can say that the diver in question did not surface with 50 Bar then sucked up 10 Bar in his/her efforts to save him/herself.

      Some real stats. on all the incidents on Malta and Gozo would be useful to see just how many incidents involve unaccompanied divers and how many accompanied.

      Last year two swimmers died in Xweni bay, by extension therefore should swimmers be accompanied by professionals?

      The problem often lies in the judgment of the persons concerned. One of the most important lessons I learned from BSAC was “take a look and if you think you will not be able to get out do not go in” and do not be intimidated by what your mates think. If necessary change your mates. Even if you are only a bit unsure do not go. If in doubt stay out.

      The only way to be 100% sure of not having diving or swimming accidents is to ban diving and swimming altogether and we certainly do not want that.

      However as a compromise how about a “red flag” system at all the dive and swimming sites as operated on many beaches worldwide?

      Red flag means do not swim or dive.

      I do not have a personal axe to grind about unaccompanied diving, whatever floats your boat. I have been diving on Gozo for over 25 years but I still enjoy accompanied dives and even on accompanied dives I still decline to dive if I think that conditions are beyond my capabilities.

    9. frankie says:

      I would like to say one of these divers was a dear friend of mine comments regarding taking chances for a cheap holiday are disrespectful and hurtful. He was a great man and before people know the full circumstances of the accident they should not judge.

    10. A Whitelark says:

      We should not be proffering our opinions but insisting that the evidence come out in the public domain so that the relevant parties can learn and improve their practice. At least this would be a positive thing coming from this tragedy

    11. OLD (BUT NOT BOLD) DIVER says:

      To Frankie I would add my condolences to those of Mick Cundy. Two years ago I too lost a dear friend in a diving accident in Scapa Flow so I know how he feels. A forum such as this discussing tragic deaths is no place to be taking side swipes at divers supposedly looking for cheap holidays or dive centres for real or imagined infringements of local fiscal law.

      To A Whitelark I would say that I could not agree more, let us have more facts and fewer opinions.

    12. Eliza Portelli says:

      I repeat. There should be a full probe into this matter. The equipment divers are given should be thoroughly inspected for any flaws, cheap quality, etc. The last thing that comes into my mind is that the diver is inexperienced.

    13. Margaret Slavin-Shaw says:

      We have not dived this time due to my illness and have never got out without a trained instructor (our own choice) however as PADI Advanced Open Water diver’s and coming to Gozo for the first time we were horrified and upset to learn of the diver`s tragedy/ death.
      Until people know the facts I feel negative comments should be reserved however it is important as suggested in the comments, we must learned by the mistakes and get to know the full picture to try and prevent more tragedies.
      In particular when my husband and I went snorkelling in the Blue Hole and I discovered fins, a scripted mask and snorkel and weights at the bottom of the hole adjacent (I could not reach the weights).
      I then found out it was there the accident had taken place and that these items could have been belonging to one of them! We were and still are very upset and as common divers etiquette we handed them into St Andrew’s Dive Centre in Xlendi as we were staying there. I explained where we found them and was reassured by Diana and Joe they would return the equipment back to the diver who was taken to hospital as they understood it to be his. Also they would send a couple of diver’s to collect the weights which gave us some comfort.
      Just to set our minds at rest would someone please be kind enough to give our condolences and that we wish him a speedy recovery and reasure us his equipment we found was handed back, by way of email?
      Thank you and condolences to their families at this very sad time.
      Margaret and Richard

    14. A Whitelark says:

      Eliza maybe you should direct your views to the magistrate and ask him to push the investigation into the public domain. I am sure the dive schools would agree to a full investigation. I don’t think we should speculate about equipment as we are not in full possession of the facts.

    15. Eliza says:

      For all we know, the equipment may be refurbished or inadequate. Everything should be ruled out because this is sadly happening far too often. Unfortunately, I am not there at the moment but I’m hoping that by expressing my views, alot of top authorities will become aware of this .

      • Mick Cundy says:

        Eliza please do stop making such comments. No ‘top authority’ is going to take the least bit of notice of you and you are continuing to speculate about something you know nothing about.

    16. 15 year diver says:

      we decided not to dive the faroud earlier that day because the conditions were bad and there were no other divers present, we drove via the dive shop and asked about alternatives, Gozo was suggested and we decided on the Inland sea and the Azure window

      There were plenty of divers we inspected the entry at the Inland Sea and we inspected the exit at the Blue Hole, the conditions were very slight under the Arch and there were numerous divers in the blue hole

      We kitted up and commenced the dive, entering the Inland sea and turning left towards the Azure window and hoping to exit at the Blue Hole, the whole dive proceeded at between 9 to 13 metres, the dive was fairly uneventful and textbook

      I have lead numerous divers on this enchanting dive, I was born in Malta and I’m a qualified BSAC Advanced Diver with many dives

      There was an incident under the arch and we surfaced from 10 metres to be met with horrendous swells and crashing waves and not what we had witnessed at the before the dive

      towing a diver and performing rescue breaths in those conditions was very difficult and getting out was nearly impossible with no rescue equipment, I signalled for help to the cliff above and people just waved back, eventually other divers came to help and after several attempts helped me get the casualty to shore and start resuscitation

      To Frankie I think I know you…to Mike Cundy I am the fourth diver..to dive instructor you are an ill-informed fool…To Margaret Slavin-Shaw…thank you I got the black mask back with the neoprene head band…To Alan Coode your hero worship of Dive instructor is laughable…You were not there…so shut up

      If there was a safety flag system we would have never dived, if there was some safety equipment or ladders the day may have ended differently, we didn’t go out to die we went out for a nice dive

      Our air consumption during the 30 minute dive at 10 metres was irrelevant but heavy task loading and breathing during a major rescue was intense

      I had over 100 bar on the surface and sucked it down to 50 bar dive instructor who took snide looks into our van should shut up sly remarks like this are unhelpful and if you want to speak to me I will gladly speak to you, I was there and you WERE NOT so SHUT UP

      The problems were not due to being unaccompanied…If we had made it to the Blue Hole we would have exited and would not be speaking now, everything happened quickly and we had to make decisions based on our predicament, a dive ladder, some rope would have made a lot of difference

      Please don’t reply I’m not interested in snidey ill-informed remarks…If Dive Instructor is the low life reporter then don’t ever come near me again

    17. James A. Tyrrell says:

      I think people are forgetting that people died here and it’s important to find out why that happened in order to prevent it happening again. I used to dive myself and got into a few hairy situations but because I was with fellow club members we looked out for each other. We also always looked at a worst case situation before entering the water and worked out a plan to get back out if it went pear shaped. I have no idea why these divers died because I wasn’t there but I don’t think you can simply assume that they did something wrong. It’s important that all the equipment is checked especially the regulators and air quality in the tanks. A lot of divers don’t carry their own equipment on holidays due to baggage costs but the very least they should do is bring their own regulator as I would never have even considered hiring one on a dive. As for air consumption everyone is different. Some people have a very calm breathing style underwater and some don’t and the latter can use up air a lot quicker obviously. Last year I was sitting at the little cafe at Mgarr-ix-Xini on Gozo with a friend having a meal and watching a pair of divers kitting up. The first thing they put on was a wet suit and the second thing was a weight belt! The rest of their equipment went on top. I don’t know where they were trained or indeed if they were trained but doing something that stupid was asking for trouble. Diving is extremely important to Malta as it brings people from all over the world so yes I agree that things need to change with regard to who can and who cannot dive but I think we also need to look at regular safety inspections of equipment being hired to divers especially regulators and compressors used for charging tanks as well as better provision of ladders and ropes so that people can be helped out when they do find themselves in trouble.

      • Mick Cundy says:

        I think I should point out that according to Scuba tutorials your gear should be donned in the following order:
        Exposure suit
        Weight belt
        Scuba unit
        Mask and fins

    18. A. Whitelark says:

      The common theme of all the above letters is sadness that this tragic event occurred but a strong will to improve safety on every.dive. Let us try to persuade the authorities that it is in all our interests to examine this tragedy and that it brings some respect and meaning to the untimely deaths of these two divers, I also find it quite bizarre that these two divers have not been named,(next of kin must have been informed by now) and they are not just diving statistics.)”

    19. OLD (BUT NOT BOLD) DIVER says:

      The world’s diving community awaits with baited breath to profit from Mr. Tyrrell’s great wisdom on the correct order in which to don diving equipment.

      • James A. Tyrrell says:

        So do you think it makes sense to put on a weight belt and then put on a buoyancy compensator on top of it which is what took place in the event I described? I was always taught that the last thing to go on was the first thing you needed to ditch in the event of an emergency, your weight belt. Maybe there are different rules in Malta which could explain a lot!

      • Mick Cundy says:

        I don’t know what you are trying to prove James A Tyrrell but my information is from several diving websites, in different countries, stating the same thing. Now, please, give it a rest!!! And stop insulting the people of Malta!!

      • James A. Tyrrell says:

        @Mick Cundy. First of all I’m not trying to prove anything, I’m stating a fact. Secondly how am I insulting the people of Malta? People are dying in your lovely country and it’s important to find out why, not brush it under the carpet so as not to damage your tourist industry!

      • Mick Cundy says:

        You stated what you observed and then passed judgement, using words like ‘how stupid was that’ and maybe the rules are different in Malta, with an exclamation mark. That is not just stating fact. I think we can all infer correctly what you were stating and as we have found that what those people you observed were doing was correct, I think that any inferences made are correct. Unfortunately in this high risk sport people do die and not just in the waters off Malta. My friend’s wife (both he and she very experience divers) died whilst diving off Cromer, Norfolk. My last word on the matter.

    20. Eliza Portelli says:

      Mick Cundy, I wrote about rip cuurents and how they can drag a person out to sea. Many people are unaware about these rip currents. The authorities did do something about this and if this can prevent future tragedies, I am grateful.

    21. A. Whitelark says:

      Given the sincerity and gravity of the situation we are discussing i do not think the previous remark is anything but in bad taste. If we are given the opportunity to voice an opinion with maybe a chance to influence the relevant authorities to amend and update policy and practice, we do have a responsibility to leave our professional hangups hangng up !

    22. Mick Cundy says:

      Irrespective of circumstances and personal comments here I think we should be mindful of the fact that 2 people died in traumatic circumstances and many others have been affected by this sad event.

    23. frankie says:

      Thank you Mick one of the few who understands the grief of those family & friends left behind. I do not like forums & do not generally participate however, I would ask people to be mindful of comments made. In the UK people are searching for answers to what has happened not distasteful opinions.

    24. George Vella says:

      I have been in this industry in Gozo for over 29 years and have seen accidents happen, unfortunately, but that is part and parcel of any adventure sports. However, I just cannot fathom how some commentators, including ones who claim that they are instructors of certain experience, can come up with comments such as to make unaccompanied diving illegal and you must dive always with an instructor. It just cannot be done, period. This is like telling every licenced DRIVER that he or she cannot go driving on their own unless you are accompanied by a DRIVING instructor. Would all the drivers accept this? I honestly do not think so. So PLEASE, if you do not know what happened, stop speculating and let the authorities do their jobs and find out what happened. What I do say however, is that it is about time that some authority starts compiling these accidents, whether fatal or not and together with the results of the inquiries, start publishing a sort of Diving Incidents Report, in which, without mentioning any names or centres involved in these accidents, there would be the findings of how the accidents have happened and why, so that all concerned can learn from these experiences and hopefully bring these accidents down to a minimum if not eradicating them completely, which is never going to happen, as the more divers visit our islands, the bigger the ratio will be of accidents to happen.

    25. Margaret Slavin-Shaw says:

      To 15 year diver;
      Thank you for responding and letting me know you have recieved your mask….hope you have your fins too?
      In my opinion you did a marvellous job in very difficult situation and the trauma you must going through I cannot begin to understand. Nature has a cruel way; change of currents etc.I don’t think you have to explain and justify as you were there and know!!
      Be at peace if you can and condolences to the families again.
      I also wish the third diver a speedy recovery.

    26. OLD (BUT NOT BOLD) DIVER says:

      So, Mr Tyrrell, would you put your weight belt over the top of your BCD?

    27. OLD (BUT NOT BOLD) DIVER says:

      You side-stepped the issue there Mr. Tyrrell, I was waiting for your advice to those who still wear a weight belt.
      But to bring this to a close let me assure you that it is far easier, and far safer to put the weight belt on before the BCD. That way you can be sure that the belt fits snugly around the waist above the hips to reduce the chance of accidental loss of the belt during the dive (and consequential uncontrolled buoyant ascent). The belt can still be removed easily and quickly when necessary, I know because I have done it many times on boat dives.

    28. A Whitelark says:

      I am beginning to understand how important it is to agree a standard for leading dives. If you can’t agree on the surface what hope do any of us have in an emergency 20 meters below!

    29. OLD (BUT NOT BOLD) DIVER says:

      The standards are agreed and have been for many years, the important thing is to know what those standards are and to refrain from disseminating false information.

    30. A Whitelark says:

      If the standards are agreed why are you continuing with this load of baloney

    31. OLD (BUT NOT BOLD) DIVER says:

      A Whitelark thinks that the facts are a load of baloney does he?
      It is important that false information is corrected for the benefit of others.

      To return to an earlier sentiment in this forum people would be well advised to acquaint themselves with the true facts before rushing to the keyboard to get their names into print.

    32. Mike baker says:

      Am so sorry to hear about this dreadful accident but as a novice diver planning to go there with experienced diving friends what was the incident?

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