A Northam couple have been speaking of their rollercoaster of fear for their scuba diver daughter, followed by the sheer joy of learning she had been found alive after going missing in shark infested waters off Indonesia. The incredible survival story of
A Northam couple have been speaking of their rollercoaster of fear for their scuba diver daughter, followed by the sheer joy of learning she had been found alive after going missing in shark infested waters off Indonesia.The incredible survival story of Charlotte Allin and Barnstaple boyfriend James Manning hit the headlines at the weekend after they and three fellow divers were left adrift in open ocean for nine hours before making it to a desert island, also home to the fearsome Komodo Dragon lizard.Now David and Sue Allin are hoping 25-year-old Charlotte will be home with them by this weekend.They spoke to the North Devon Gazette of an agonising and horror-filled wait after the British Foreign Office called them at midday on Friday to report their daughter and 30-year-old James had disappeared in dangerous waters during a diving trip off the Komodo National Park.The couple are both experienced divers and had been taking a break from jobs as diving instructors in Thailand. James is also a former Royal Marine and member of 59 Independent Commando Squadron based at RMB Chivenor.The Allins were comforted by friends and family during a night-long vigil of anguish, but in the early hours of Saturday morning officials called to say the couple had been found alive.They were suffering from dehydration, cuts and bruises but lucky to be alive after an ordeal which had lasted three days. Some 30 or more local boats had scoured the region in the hope of finding them alive."The Foreign Office called me at work, about 24 hours after they had gone missing, to say they were having to call off the search until daylight," said Mr Allin."That was difficult, there were 12 hours where we had nothing to do but wait."Initially I thought it was not looking good, but as I got my head together I refused to be anything but positive - I knew they had all their gear on, they were experienced and the water was pretty warm."Charlotte managed to borrow a phone after being rescued and called her greatly relieved parents at 7am."We just want to get her home now," said Mr Allin."The Foreign Office was superb and I had excellent support from everyone at work."The people who took their boats out searching are those I will never meet, but we are very thankful to them."Mrs Allin said the news they had been found was fantastic:"It's every parent's worst nightmare, to get a call to say your child is missing, I think that says it all," she said."They had said to us on Friday there was a chance the divers had been swept on to an island but at that stage we had no idea whether they had been, but we never gave up hope."***************************THE story of Charlotte, James, fellow Briton Kathleen Richardson, Frenchman Lauren Pinel and Swede Helena Naradainen and reads like something from an adventure novel: After surfacing from a dive, the two experienced instructors and their companions couldn't attract the attention of their dive boat and were left adrift, watching it disappear into the distance.With nothing but wetsuits and fins their chances of survival in open water, threatened by thirst, exposure and sharks, seemed slim.But salvation lay in a drifting log and after nine hours clinging on desperately for their lives and at the mercy of strong currents, the party managed to make it to the deserted Rinja Island at around midnight local time.The peril was far from over - the island is also a nature reserve for the Komodo Dragon, the largest lizard in the world, which grows up to 10 feet in length, with shark like teeth and poisonous saliva. After a cold night the group took stock and, unaware they were on an uninhabited island, it was decided James would try to go for help. The rest, in extreme temperatures, suffering from dehydration and without water, tried to get what nourishment they could from raw shellfish scraped off the rocks.That afternoon a komodo dragon lumbers in to view, clutched in its jaws the wetsuit discarded by James before departing. Helena has a narrow escape as it snatches a bite at the hood of her wetsuit, before they manage to chase it off.A plane passed overhead and boats were seen in the distance but eventually they faced a second night on the island plagued by cold and severe thirst.Further arodun the coast James does the same, having gone too far and deciding to harbour his remaining strength to continue searching for help at dawn.At lunchtime that day a speedboat, with Charlotte and the rest aboard hurtles into the bay where James is. A German dive club owner, Frank Winkler, had used his knowledge to work out where the missing party could be. Their ordeal was over.