Stranded scuba divers chase off Komodo dragon on remote Indonesian island

By ALI KOTARUMALOS Associated Press Writer

June 9, ABC News

Indonesia - Scuba divers swept away in strong currents survived 12 hours in shark-infested waters before scrambling onto a remote Indonesian island where they faced yet another threat: a Komodo dragon.

The divers — three from Britain and one each from France and Sweden — came face-to-face with the giant, carnivorous lizard on Rinca's palm-fringed beach, and fought it off by pelting it with rocks and pieces of wood, Pariman, a port official said Sunday.

"Luckily, they were able to chase it away," said Pariman, who, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name.

The beasts have sharp, serrated teeth and often come out when they smell something new, including humans — whom they've been known to kill, Pariman said.

The divers encountered treacherous currents after plunging from their wooden boat off Tatawa island on Thursday afternoon. They drifted 20 miles from their dive site before swimming to Rinca, their last chance to avoid being swept into the open ocean.

"We struggled against the current for several hours, but eventually stopped," Laurent Pinel, 31, of France, told The Sunday Times of London. The group tied their diving vests together to preserve energy, he said. Once on the island, they scraped mussels from the rocks for food, he said.

The divers ran into the Komodo dragon on Friday afternoon. The next day, rescuers aboard one of 30 boats searching the waters spotted them waving frantically on the shore and took them to Flores island for medical treatment.

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photo: Rescued European divers arrive at Labuhan Bajo port, Flores island, Indonesia, Saturday, June 7, 2008. All five Europeans who went missing while scuba diving in treacherous waters off eastern Indonesia were found alive Saturday on a remote island. (AP Photo/ Oby Lewanmeru)