Gozo – Reqqua Rescue
On Sunday 24th September a number of divers had to be rescued from Reqqua point off the North coast of Gozo.
The divers, some of who began their dive further up the coast at Billinghurst cave and were forced to swim round to a less choppy exit, were caught out when the weather dramatically changed. The forecast had suggested that this would happen but a number of divers not diving with Gozitan/Maltese dive centres still decided to dive. Dive centres who had checked the weather managed to dive the same site earlier in the morning and got out before weather changed. One instructor from a Gozitan dive centre told me that as he was finishing his dive other divers were still entering the water, he suggested that perhaps they didn’t dive at that site.
Once the weather changed you can see from the footage above that the divers exits became very difficult, extremely dangerous and pretty much impossible without shore based help.
Divers and bystanders of differing nationalities worked together and helped a number of divers exit the water but as the weather got worse it became too dangerous to attempt any more shore based rescues.
The video shows just how much danger the two rescuers on the ladder were putting themselves in to assist the stranded divers. All it would have taken was a loss of balance and with no fins on they would have been at the mercy of the sea. All rescuers should be commended and thanked for their part in the Rescues.
The decision had previously been made to call for professional assistance from the land and air based sections of the Armed Forces of Malta. Within a short response time Melita II and her crew were on the water with an AgustaWestland AW139 providing air support. The Crew of Melita II soon had the stranded divers in the safety of their rescue boat. They did an amazing job and the divers involved owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
I wonder if, with a little bit more careful dive planning, this event which could have so easily ended in tragedy could have been avoided? In my opinion the lives of all the shore based rescuers, and although highly trained, the lives of the G Command and Air Wing were all put at risk due to a poor decision to dive.
A huge thank you on behalf of the rescued divers to the teams below, without them it could have been a totally different story!
None of Reefers and Wreckers divers were diving at this site and were only there to lend assistance after noticing people in trouble.
This Command consist of a land and sea element which are necessary to cater for an immediate and swift response on the island of Gozo.
Land Component – The land component consists of a platoon strong element tasked with defending the territorial integrity of the island of Gozo.Maritime Component –
The maritime component consists a Melita SAR boat and a Defender Class boat which are permanently based at Mgarr Harbour in Gozo. Read more on G Command
The Rotary Wing Flight handles all helicopter operations, ranging from offshore casualty evacuation and rescue to air ambulance as well as patient transfer between the Islands’ two main hospitals.
It also provides assistance to other government entities as required. Read more on Air Wing AFM