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Strong winds and sea currents blamed as 8 scuba divers go missing in Taiwan

An all-out search for eight missing scuba divers in waters off the Kenting National Park at the southernmost tip of Taiwan had not yielded any results as of last night. Officials at the Coast Guard Administration said yesterday the search will continue today.

The eight holidaymakers — six men and two women — were reported missing while scuba diving in waters near Chihsingyen (Seven Star Rock), located some 12 nautical miles southwest of Kenting in the southernmost county of Pingtung. They left for Chihsingyen along with four other members of a diving club aboard a yacht early in the morning. The 12 began scuba diving in waters between Oluanbi and Chihsingyen at 10:30 a.m. and were supposed to return to the yacht at 11:30 a.m. However, eight of them failed to return to the yacht on schedule.The skipper of the yacht said strong winds and rapid currents in the region prevented him from finding the missing divers.

Coast guard teams launched an all-out search, including sending out two helicopters, as soon as they were informed of the case at around noon. It is believed that five of the missing divers have earned diving licenses and are qualified as diving coaches.

Diving experts said the Chihsingyen region has the most beautiful underwater scenes, including rare coral reefs as well as countless varieties of marine animals and plants. Divers should always keep very alert on the weather conditions, including the strength of the winds and the speed of the currents.

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