Missing British man and son feared dead after drug captain abandons them off Malaysia coast

8 April 2022, 10:22

A British man and his son went missing on the diving trip.
A British man and his son went missing on the diving trip. Picture: Berita Haria online

By Emma Soteriou

A missing British man and his son are feared dead after they went missing while diving off the coast of Malaysia on Wednesday.

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Shell engineer Adrian Chesters, 46, and his 14-year-old Dutch son, Nathen Chesters, were among a group of four diving in 49ft-deep water near an island around 10 miles off the coastal town of Mersing in the southern Johor state.

An alarm was raised after the group did not surface about an hour after the dive.

The captain gave a statement to police in Mersing, a coastal town on the southeastern tip of the Malay Peninsula, but was later arrested when he tested positive for methamphetamine after a urine sample was taken.

Registered diving instructor Kristine Grodem was saved earlier in the week.

She said the four surfaced safely on Wednesday afternoon but drifted away from the boat and were separated by a strong current.

However, hopes of finding the final trio - which includes the British nationals and a woman from France - are fading fast as rescuers continue to scour the area into a third day.

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Despite concerns, police said on Thursday that they believed there was a "strong chance" the pair will be found alive.

District police chief Cyril Edward Nuing said: "With their equipment, their full gear and their experience, we believe there is a strong chance of finding them alive."

Ms Grodem said that she was offering diving training to the group, who were aiming to obtain advanced diving licences.

She was rescued by a tug boat and then airlifted by a maritime aircraft, Johor maritime officials said.

Johor's sultan, Ibrahim Iskandar, ordered the suspension of all activities off Mersing pending an investigation.

In a statement, he said: "We cannot allow diving to continue if safety measures are compromised."

The search was called off late on Wednesday local time because of poor visibility, and another diver - Alexia Alexandra Molina, 18, from France - remains missing.

The Foreign Office is in contact with the diving resort and has offered consular assistance to the family, it is understood.