Divers say no sign of missing sailor

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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New Zealand Navy sailor, Kiligo Joseph Lemafo’e Tua.

New Zealand Navy sailor, Kiligo Joseph Lemafo’e Tua.

Three hours snorkeling and diving by Master Divers, Talauati Tolovae Leau and his older brother, Iosia Mailata Leau at Tosua Trench last Sunday led to nothing. 

The certified divers were contracted by the Police Ministry, on Sunday afternoon to assist in the search for the missing Royal New Zealand Navy sailor, Kiligo Joseph Lemafo’e Tua who was last seen at Tosua, last Saturday. 

Meanwhile the Police suspect that either Tua slipped and fell into the ocean, or was struck by a wave. 

On the day of the incident, the sea was very rough, it was reported. 

Based at the Devonport Naval Base, the 24-year-old from Otahuhu, New Zealand and Leauva’a, came to Samoa for a short vacation and visited the famous Tosua Trench. 

The spokesperson for Tosua said Mr. Tua’s belongings were found at a lava pool not far from the popular trench. She said they suspect he was there enjoying the view and the scenery when he got in trouble. 

Master Diver Talauati told Samoa Observer, they arrived at the scene around noon with Police Commissioner Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil, and were taken directly to where his belongings were found. He agreed with the police theory that he may have slipped and fallen into the ocean or been struck by a wave. 

According to Talauati, they were taken to the blowholes.

“The current was strong when we arrived so my brother Iosia dived and I assisted. Iosia dived about 8-10 feet below while I snorkeled nearby.

“We covered every possible angle we could, given the high waves and we didn’t find anything.” 

He further stated that Iosia then dived farther out into the open water and did not come across any signs of the missing man. 

“The problem is, we were contacted for assistance six to seven days after the person had gone missing. If we were contacted right when the matter was reported to the police, maybe we would have come across something. 

“We searched high and low, between the rocks … and nothing. 

“As a fisherman, for more than 30 years and a diver for more than 10 years, a person cannot stay down in the water for longer than four to five hours. When someone drowns, the water goes into their lungs, fills up and then diverts to other organs until the body is filled with water. Then the body eventually comes up and floats.”  

Meanwhile the Police will continue the search and while they’ll probably have to scale down the numbers of officers involved, the search will continue. 

The Police have also confirmed that Mr. Tua’s parents and several relatives have arrived in Samoa to help with the search and a request for assistance has also been made to the Office of the New Zealand High Commissioner.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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