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Updated 18 February 2014

Lost divers: 5 biggest dangers

Five of seven missing scuba divers in Indonesia have been found. Here's more about the dangers they would have faced during their four days in the water.

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Five of the seven missing divers have been found alive in waters off Indonesia. They disappeared on 14 February while diving off Bali's southeast coast and were only found on 17 February.

Here's more about the main dangers they would have faced:

The most obvious would have been drowning. Even good swimmers can only keep going for so long, and in rough seas anyone can drown. If someone is unconscious when hitting the water, chances of drowning are extremely high.

After a short while, hypothermia becomes a problem. It is not possible for someone in the water to maintain their body temperature for any length of time – especially if they are not wearing a wetsuit. In very cold seawater (between 0.3 and  4.4 degrees Celsius) hypothermia can set in within minutes 30 minutes and expected time of survival is between 30 and 90 minutes. Indonesia's oceans are warmer, so the divers probably could keep going for quite a while. In relatively warm water (up to 21 degrees Celsius) survival time is anything from 2 – 40 hours - without a wetsuit..

Then, of course there is always the possibility of a shark attack. Indonesia's waters teem with both sharks and rays, and in a recent survey, 20 new species have been discovered in this area. Although humans are not at the top of sharks' list of preferences, sharks will investigate anything out of the ordinary – such as a human splashing on the surface of the water.

Dehydration is a major problem to people caught in ocean water. Obviously salt water is not for drinking as its concentration of salts is up to 220 times that of fresh water. Drinking of sea water will hasten the process of dehydration considerably.

Sunburn can be deadly, but usually it takes a day or two for this to become a real problem to someone in a situation such as this. Excessive sunburn can lead to further dehydration.


(Sources: seagrant.umn.edu; expeditionfleetblog, Health24;www.utah.edu)
 
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