Veteran diver dies after surfacing with breathing difficulties

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 July, 2009, 12:00am

A 50-year-old man has died after going for a night dive with a friend off Ping Chau island in Mirs Bay.

Cheng Cheuk-yin, who friends said was a veteran diver, went into the water at Tai Tong Wan at about 9.45pm on Thursday. He was diving with a friend in an area with a depth of three metres and they were not more than 50 metres from the shore.

Cheng resurfaced at about 11.30pm and complained of feeling unwell, police said.

'While swimming back to shore, he told his friend that he had difficulty breathing. After reaching the shore, his friend called police,' a spokesman said.

Cheng was semi-conscious when a marine police launch arrived about five minutes later, and lost consciousness while being carried into an ambulance. He was taken to Prince of Wales Hospital, where he was declared dead shortly before 1am. Initial investigations found nothing suspicious and an autopsy will be carried out.

Cheng was one of more than 10 people visiting the island. They had stayed in a rented house since Wednesday. Police said the group went diving there by day and night.

The death is the second diving fatality in recent months. On April 27, a 44-year-old died during a night dive with friends to catch fish off Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate.

The Hong Kong Underwater Association will introduce a voluntary register for diving instructors this month in an effort to reduce diving deaths, which are on the rise.

The move follows a call by a coroner early this year, after a woman died on a beginner's course, for the government to issue safety rules for instructors and offer diving courses.