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January 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 29, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Diver Makes Fatal Mistake During Typhoon Haiyan

from the January, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Typhoon Haiyan affected 9.5 million people across the Philippines when it slammed into the country on November 8. In the gathering storm that afternoon, Dutch diver Rinus Hiesalaar, 69, opted to stay put in the diving boat he had chartered with three friends, while his fellow diver wisely sought shelter on Camanga Island.

There were no ominous signs yet of the fury of Haiyan save for the occasional strong winds, fellow Dutch diver Miroslav Johannes Lavaleye told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. "We went to Apo Reef, and had a beautiful day there." But on that fatal Friday, they decided to sail back to Maricaban because of the approaching storm. Along the way, one of the outriggers broke. While they were able to fix it, they decided to "hide" in the nearest shelter, Camanga Island. After dropping anchor, Lavaleye and two divers rode a smaller boat to shore. Hiesalaar stayed in the boat, as did the Filipino skipper and some of his crew members.

"We decided to go to the village to wait the storm out. Everyone got off, except for [Hiesalaar]," Lavaleye said. "This guy said 'No, no, I'm more comfortable here. Please let me stay.' He's now dead because of that decision." The boat capsized in the middle of thefurious storm; the captain and four crew members survived, but four other crewmembers died. Heisalaar's body was found floating at sea three days later.

Note from Ben: This is reminiscent of the Wave Dancer tragedy in Belize back in 2001. Seventeen divers from a dive club in Richmond, VA, and three crew members who stayed aboard died when the boat flipped during Hurricane Iris.

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