June 7: Rescued European divers arrive at Labuhan Bajo port, Flores island, Indonesia.
All five Europeans who vanished while scuba diving in treacherous waters off eastern Indonesia were found alive Saturday on a remote island, police and family members said.
The divers — three from Britain and one each from France and Sweden — were rescued after battling a komodo dragon during the 36 hours they were stranded on a remote island reserve for the deadly reptiles, AFP reports. They became stranded after getting caught in strong currents.
All five were found following a massive sea search in the area where they were last seen Thursday plunging into the water from their wooden boat, said Lt. Col. Buce Helo, a local police chief.
He said the five had drifted more than 12 hours before arriving at Rinca island about 20 miles away from their dive site. They spent one night there before being found by rescuers just before noon on Saturday.
One of the divers Laurent Pinel, 31, told AFP the group had to fight off a dragon with rocks after it came up to the group, and scavenged for shellfish as they waited to be rescued from the tiny island in the Komodo National Park, east of Bali.
The divers did not know the island was a reserve for the aggressive large lizards that can easily kill a human.
The largest lizard in the world, komodo dragons usually feast in packs and can easily devour prey as large as a buffalo, AFP reported. Komodos have bacteria in their saliva that can make their bite extremely dangerous.
Once found, rescuers took the scuba divers by motorboat to Labuhan Bajo, a city on the western tip of nearby Flores island, said Pariman, chief of the local port authority.
The five were rushed to a local hospital.
Pariman, who goes by only one name, described their condition as weak but healthy.
"They are alive and are now on their way to get medical assistance," Ernest Leandowski, the husband of one of the British divers, Kathleen Mitchinson, told the British news agency Press Association. "That is all I can say at this stage, as I have not yet spoken to my wife."
The diving trip took place off of Tatawa island, an area famous for its rich marine diversity but also for its treacherous and unpredictable seas.
Recommended only for experienced divers, it is in a place where the Indian and Pacific Oceans meet, creating currents that converge and separate. Whirlpools and eddies can pull divers downwards.
"They have been floating out there for two days," Dave Allin, the relieved father of Charlotte Allin, also of Britain, told Press Association. "We are still waiting for news of how they are."
The three other divers were identified as James Manning of Britain, Elena Neralairen of Sweden, and Lauren Pinel of France.
Rinca island is about 20 miles south of Tatawa.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.