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Alexandre Molina (left) and Esther Molina (centre), parents of missing Alexia Alexandra Molina from France, look at a phone during ongoing search efforts to locate three divers who went missing off Mersing April 8, 2022. — AFP pic
Alexandre Molina (left) and Esther Molina (centre), parents of missing Alexia Alexandra Molina from France, look at a phone during ongoing search efforts to locate three divers who went missing off Mersing April 8, 2022. — AFP pic

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MERSING, April 8 — The mother of a French diver missing off the coast of Malaysia said Friday she is “hoping for the best” as the search for the teenager and two other Europeans entered a third day.

The trio disappeared along with their instructor on Wednesday after going diving off a southern island. 

The Norwegian instructor, 35-year-old Kristine Grodem, was rescued alive Thursday after drifting for miles, and was admitted to hospital in a stable condition.

Officials have expressed hope the others will be found alive, as they had surfaced from a dive before going missing and are experienced divers.

Esther Molina, the mother of French 18-year-old Alexia Alexandra Molina, also struck an optimistic note.

“We hear from experienced divers that the situation is positive, they’re above water, hopefully they’re together still,” she told AFP from the coastal town of Mersing, the base for search operations.

“We are hoping for the best. She’s a strong girl, she’ll kick ass.”

She added authorities had been “efficient, we’ve been kept updated about the status of the search”.

The other two missing divers are British man Adrian Peter Chesters, 46, and his 14-year-old son Nathan Renze Chesters, who is a Dutch citizen.

The search, which includes 10 boats, three helicopters and dozens of officials, resumed in the early hours, said senior police official Cyril Edward Nuing.

“Until now we have not received new sightings pertaining to the three missing divers,” he told a press conference, but he added he had a “strong hope” they would be found.

Grodem had been instructing the divers close to a small island, Tokong Sanggol, about 15 kilometres (nine miles) off Malaysia’s southeast coast when the accident happened.

After a dive lasting about 40 minutes, they surfaced but could not find their boat. They drifted together in strong currents, but ended up getting separated. 

The captain of the boat who took them to the dive site has been arrested after testing positive for drugs. 

The area where they disappeared is popular with foreign and domestic visitors — there are resorts dotted along the coast and on nearby islands.

Diving accidents, while rare, do occasionally take place in Malaysia. 

In 2013, a British tourist died when she was struck by a passing boat’s propeller while diving off resort islands in the South China Sea. 

The tropical South-east Asian nation’s borders reopened to foreign tourists on April 1 after a two-year closure because of the coronavirus pandemic. — AFP

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