• Diving test participants fear for safety as sea turns cold, weather turns and waves grow higher

An investigation into how three tourists in southern China were abandoned at sea along with their diving instructor - forcing them to swim for two hours to the nearest shore - has shocked social media.

One of the tourists, surnamed Jin, said the trio were taken by yacht to a location near Zhouzai Island in the tropical Hainan province on June 9, where they were taking a diving licence test, according to Shangyou News.

After several hours they realised the vessel would not be returning to pick them up, so they decided to try and swim back to shore before it got dark, Jin said.

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Jin turned to social media because he believed the yacht company's response to the tourists' complaint was unacceptable and amounted to a dereliction of duty, the report said.

Jin, who is from eastern China's Zhejiang province, said when the boat sent them to the diving spot, a member of the crew told them to swim back afterwards because they were "too busy to collect you".

"During the conversation between our instructor and the crew member, he finally agreed to ask the captain to collect us when he made a return voyage later," Jin was quoted as saying.

The diving test they were taking took place between 2pm and 4pm and they waited until 6.15pm before swimming back to shore.

None of them had a mobile phone with them, said Jin.

The three tourists only had one swimming ring between them, so two of them gripped the outside and Jin stayed in the middle, while the coach pulled the ring along.

He described the two-hour swimming journey as "horrible".

"Half an hour after we began swimming, I felt the seawater turn cold and saw the sky become overcast. Sometime later, it started to rain and the waves got higher," said Jin.

"I was completely drained of energy. I could not move my legs anymore, and could only pull my arms slowly. My whole body was cold and numb," he said.

They arrived at the coast at 8pm, partly thanks to the current, which was flowing in the direction of the shore.

It took them another half an hour to walk from a rocky beach to a road where they hitchhiked and got a lift to hospital.

Jin said the yacht company only offered to pay 10 times the ship tickets they had bought as compensation.

"My appeal is not a bid to increase this compensation," said Jin.

"I'm hoping the authorities will intervene to avoid similar incidents happening again."

As Jin's social media post went viral, the local tourism authority began investigating the incident.

"Our investigation showed that there were some malpractices. We plan to transfer the case to the law enforcement department to deal with," an official said.

They also said that people should not be taken to dive near Zhouzai Island because it has not been properly developed yet.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (, the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

Copyright (c) 2024. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

2024-06-21T12:23:24Z dg43tfdfdgfd