x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Search continues for freediver

Family still holds out hope for missing Emirati freediving champion Adel Abu Haliqa while second search is called off almost three weeks after he disappeared.

Adel Abu Haliqa went missing during a dive off the Greek island of Santorini on June 7.
Adel Abu Haliqa went missing during a dive off the Greek island of Santorini on June 7.

ABU DHABI //A sea search ended over the weekend without any sign of the UAE freediving champion Adel Abu Haliqa, who went missing during a dive off the Greek island of Santorini on June 7.

Mr Abu Haliqa, 40, was training for September's AIDA Individual Depth World Championship 2011 in Greece. He had been freediving to a depth of 70 metres.

A specialist team from Crete started the search on Tuesday, taking place of efforts mounted by Greek authorities that were called off after 72 hours.

Although the deep sea search ended with no results, his family is not giving up.

Mr Abu Haliqa's older brother Hussain, 53, travelled to Greece on June 9 and hired an Athens-based private company to conduct a comprehensive search.

It included a camera attached to an underwater robot and an air surveillance by helicopter.

"This is giving us more hope," Hussain said. "He's not under the water; he disappeared."

The board of AIDA International, an organisation that aims to further the sport, announced on its website on Thursday that it was investigating the disappearance.

"Statements have been published regarding this sad occurrence and the investigation is on-going to determine the cause and relate any pertinent details," said the post.

The board would review existing guidelines prior to another free-diving attempt due for July.

Hussain said he and several other family members in Santorini had no plans to return to the UAE without his brother.

"Now, we are still searching," he said. "Inshallah, we'll find him."

Adel's wife, Nada, 35, is in Abu Dhabi with their two sons, Mohammed and Ali, aged 10 and four, and daughter, Amna, eight. She also has not given up hope.

"Expert searchers say he isn't in the water," she said. "Please pray for Adel to be found."

Family and friends have been posting updates and news about the search and words of support and encouragement for Adel's family via the Twitter topic #adelmissing.

rruiz@thenational.ae