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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Search fails to locate missing snorkeler

Search and rescue teams failed yesterday to locate a 61-year-old Canadian who was swept out to sea from Obyan Beach while snorkeling late Tuesday afternoon.

As of 5:50pm yesterday, searchers have yet to locate missing snorkeler Reinhold Armo Meister, according to Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Thomas Blas Jr.

“Search operation continues tomorrow,” Blas said.

The DPS Fire Search and Rescue Unit, CNMI Homeland Security Office, Emergency Management Office, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam, and a U.S. Navy helicopter joined in the search.

The Navy helicopter did an aerial search on Tuesday at 8:50pm, from Naftan Point west to Agingan Point and between Saipan and Tinian.

Blas said the command post set up for the search is still in operation and efforts to locate the missing man will continue for the next two days.

DPS Patrol and Boating Safety officers responded to a call of an overdue swimmer at Obyan Beach on Tuesday at 6:30pm.

Boating Safety vessel Zodiac II was launched from Smiling Cove Marina to respond.

Responding officers met Meister’s wife at the scene and learned that her husband had not returned from snorkeling in the waters off Obyan Beach.

Blas said the Zodiac II conducted a surface search along the reef line from Agingan Point east to Obyan Beach, and Naftan Point.

Blas said a command post was then set up at Ladder Beach.

The U.S. Coast Guard said the snorkeler was reportedly last seen in the water off Obyan Beach at 4:45pm Tuesday, wearing a long-sleeved blue shirt, a pair of yellow shorts, and a diving mask with snorkel.

EMO notified the Coast Guard about the incident Tuesday at 7:30pm after his wife reported him missing.

Exactly a week ago, 60-year-old Gennadi Kosolapkin drowned while snorkeling outside the reef off Obyan Beach.

Kosolapkin’s body was located at 9:40pm by a Guam U.S. Coast Guard helicopter about half a mile south of Obyan Beach. He was later pronounced dead at the Commonwealth Health Center.

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