Saudi free diving champion drowns in Red Sea

July 06, 2019

By Ibrahim Alawi

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

The body of Bassam Bakheet, a Saudi free diving champion, was found near the spot where he started diving off the Jeddah coast Friday morning.

The body was found 80 meters underwater, following a search operation that lasted more than 24 hours, said Makkah Border Guard media spokesman Lt. Col. Faris Al-Maliki.

The search and rescue teams from the Border Guard said Bakheet was practicing on Thursday to participate in the international free diving championship, to be held in the Obhur creek as part of the activities of the ongoing Jeddah Season festival.

They said the Saudi and GCC free diving record holder went deep into the water but did not come back. He wanted to set a new record by remaining in the water for a longer time.

In 2017, Bakheet went down in the water to a depth of 71 meters without the oxygen cylinder and remained there for 2 minutes and 50 seconds. This was the maximum depth registered by any of the Saudi and GCC free divers.

The rescue teams said Bakheet had long experience and intensive training in diving but this did not help save his life.

The Civil Defense teams said they stopped the search Thursday night but resumed the operations Friday morning when they found the body near the place from where he began his dive.

Bakheet was buried in Jeddah early Saturday morning. The concerned authorities have already started investigating the cause of his death.

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