Hong Kong man dies in South African scuba diving incident

A 50-year-old Hongkonger has died after losing consciousness while scuba diving in South Africa, rescue services and Chinese state television have said.

The Chinese consulate in Cape Town on Monday confirmed to broadcaster CCTV that the dead man was a Hongkonger, a day after the South African National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said it had received a report of a tourist being pulled from the water off Port Elizabeth.

“It appears that the man … had surfaced from a scuba dive unconscious and he was recovered onto the dive charter boat where cardiopulmonary resuscitation was commenced by the dive charter boat crew,” it said.

The rescue service said it had been alerted to the emergency at 10.45am on Sunday.

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Port Elizabeth in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, where a 50-year-old Hong Kong man has died in a diving incident. Photo: Shutterstock

Institute spokesman Justin Erasmus told the broadcaster that medical personnel had also tried to resuscitate the man but were unsuccessful.

“[The man] was transferred onto our NSRI rescue craft, and with NSRI doctors continuing with CPR on the man, he was brought to our NSRI Gqeberha rescue station where paramedics continued with advanced life support CPR efforts,” the rescue service said.

Kelvin Kam Sheung-hang, director for the diving division of the Hong Kong Underwater Association, said South Africa was not a popular destination for scuba divers.

“There are fewer people going to South Africa for scuba diving as it is quite expensive, and not much to see in the undersea world.” he added. “People who choose to dive there will also go on safari, like they will join a 10-day tour including scuba diving for one to two days.”

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Kam said anyone who wanted to scuba dive in places such as South Africa should be experienced and have at least 200 dives under their belt.

He added vest-style buoyancy control devices used by scuba divers might also have deteriorated if left unused over the pandemic.

“Most of the parts are plastic which will wear out in time,” he explained.

Kam appealed to people to check their equipment was working properly before they went diving.

The body of the man, who has not been named, is being held by South Africa’s Forensic Pathology Service.

The Hong Kong Immigration Department has been contacted for comment.

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