Four Japanese scuba divers who went missing off Bali for three days before being rescued from a rocky outcrop returned home on Friday, looking exhausted from the terrifying ordeal.
Crowds of journalists were waiting for them at Kansai airport in western Japan when they arrived home from Indonesia.
“I feel terrible to think that we could not come back together,” said Emi Yamamoto, one of the four, referring to fellow diver Ritsuko Miyata whose body was discovered earlier this week.
“I hope we can recover soon and go back to life as it was before,” said Yamamoto, whose face was badly sunburned.
The four women were among seven who disappeared after setting off on a diving expedition last Friday.
Five were rescued, while the body of a sixth was found floating near a beach. One woman is still missing, although the Indonesian authorities have now called off their search.
The party of seven set off last week from Nusa Lembongan island just east of Bali but soon got lost. After drifting for a long time, they were slammed against rocks near the coast and were “swallowed by big waves three to four times” they said in Indonesia.
Four of them managed to clamber onto some rocks in a remote area off Nusa Penida island, which is next to Nusa Lembongan, on Saturday.
They sheltered from the harsh sun during the day and climbed up to the highest point to flash distress lights at night, fighting all the time against exhaustion and thirst.
“We were exhausted. We couldn’t get any water on the first day as it was sunny. On the second day, we collected rain water in our fins to quench our thirst. We also collected rain water in plastic bottles picked up from garbage,” they said in a joint statement.
They were rescued by boat Monday in the Manta Point area off Nusa Penida, some 20 kilometres from where they set off.
A fifth diver, Bali-based instructor Saori Furukawa, was picked up by helicopter nearby.
The rescued divers suffered sunburn and dehydration but no serious injuries, although they have been left mentally “devastated”, a Japanese official on Bali has said.
Indonesian police have arrested the captain of a boat that took the group.
The man has been named a suspect and is accused of “negligence which caused the loss of life” by leaving the female divers alone in the open seas during the trip.