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Divers rescued in the dark

A woman diver shed tears of joy when she was winched out of the dark, rough sea onto an Armed Forces of Malta’s helicopter on Wednesday evening.

Rescuers were about to give up on the search for the woman because the helicopter was running low on fuel as it battled the strong winds in the dark. Then, when they were about to leave, the woman’s head was spotted in the sea off Dwejra.

“An AFM rescue swimmer jumped into sea and managed to winch her safely on board the helicopter, which then proceeded directly to Gozo Hospital,” the armed forces said yesterday.

A few hours earlier officers had rescued her diving buddy.

The AFM said that, at about 5.30pm, the police in Gozo informed them that two divers – a German man and a Maltese woman – went missing during a diving trip at Dwejra.

The police located the divers’ van parked at Dwejra with no diving equipment in it. It was assumed that the two went on a dive and failed to return.

The AFM deployed a helicopter and a rescue launch while a patrol boat was put on standby at Mġarr Harbour, the AFM said.

The police spotted the man struggling to hold on to the rocks in the rough sea in Dwejra. The helicopter rescue team, led by pilot Mark Cassar, located the man who was hoisted on board.

The AFM said this was “a very delicate air-sea rescue operation” that involved helicopter manoeuvres close to the cliffs “in winds of well over 22 knots and sea conditions of force six to seven during low light visibility”.

Both divers are in a stable condition.

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