Lebanon’s Civil Defense Team Fails to Find Body of Diver
A Lebanese civil defense search party failed Friday to find the body of a 34-year-old professional diver who went missing at sea a day earlier, reported the Daily Star newspaper.
Zeina Hajjar went diving with her friend, Ralf Abdul-Jalil, off the coast facing the American University of Beirut (AUB), but never resurfaced. Abdul-Jalil told the paper that that he and Hajjar were diving below 40 meters when they suffered from nitrogen narcosis, an indirect effect of pressure which starts affecting divers below 40 meters unless they are equipped with the right combination of oxygen and nitrogen.
Abdul-Jalil said he tried to save Hajjar but that he was “out of sufficient oxygen” and that when he later descended with a proper air mixture, Hajjar’s body had disappeared.
“Her body did not endure the pressure,” said Abdul-Jalil, explaining that “some people are more sensitive to the effects of nitrogen narcosis more than others.”
According to Abdul-Jalil, both divers were equipped with compressed air which is sufficient for about a 40 meter-depth, because they had no intention of diving too deep, said the paper.
He said they then started to feel the effects of nitrogen narcosis, and began to sink deeper, to about 100 meters.
The effects of nitrogen narcosis can be compared to those of alcohol intoxication.
Below about 40 meters, divers affected by nitrogen narcosis can lose awareness of their reduced ability unless they try to do something that requires a quick response or accuracy of thought or motion.
Samir Yazbeck, head of the civil defense’s rescue team, said that the search for the body was very dangerous due to the depth of the location where Hajjar disappeared.
According to Yazbeck, at the point where the divers encountered problems, there is a 400-meter slope which makes it very risky for divers to search.
Civil defense officers decided instead to wait for the body to resurface – Albawaba.com