British scuba instructor helps save several divers as one dies off Malta coast

Marcus Kitching-Howe was involved in rescuing a number of divers from choppy seas off Malta, and provided first aid to a man who later died. Credit: Marcus Kitching-Howe

A scuba instructor from North Yorkshire was involved in rescuing divers from the sea in Malta after they got into difficulty.

More than a dozen people were successfully rescued but one man, a 45-year-old from the Netherlands, died following the incident.

Marcus Kitching-Howe, 31, who is originally from the Swainby area, near Stokesley, but now runs ABC Diving school in Malta, helped a number of people from the water and provided first aid to the casualty before he was taken to hospital.

He told ITV Tyne Tees he had been out with a client at Ċirkewwa Rożi, one of the most popular diving spots on the island, on the morning of the incident on Tuesday 26 March when conditions started to worsen as they returned to shore.

With winds picking up, the water was becoming choppier - making it more difficult for those still in the water to safely get out.

Ċirkewwa Rożi is a popular diving spot in the north west of Malta. Credit: Marcus Kitching-Howe

“There were probably about 25 to 30 people in the water,” he said. “So I got a rope and tied it to the handrail and put the other end into the water for divers to grab hold of.

“They could grab the line and pull themselves out of the water more quickly.”

He then noticed two divers close to the rocks, including one who was on his back and being kept afloat by the other.

Getting back into his kit, he returned to the water and seeing that the diver was not responding, he started rescue breaths on the man.

He then helped get both men onto a rescue boat manned by the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) who returned them to shore for further medical treatment. The man who had been unresponsive later died.

The diving instructor, who has been based in Malta for eight years, described the incident as "unusual" and said he had never seen so many people in the water in conditions like that.

"The diving industry is huge in Malta," he said: “There are dangers but there are so many diving centres that have an exemplary safety record - including ours.

Marcus Kitching-Howe has been based in Malta for eight years and runs ABC Diving school. Credit: Marcus Kitching-Howe

"Unfortunately, I feel the consequences of some people’s decisions that day will harm the diving industry as a whole."

Mr Kitching-Howe first learned to dive in a swimming pool in Billingham after being given a course as a gift.

His interest first took him to the Bahamas before he went to Malta to pursue a career as a full-time instructor.

Following the incident, police in Malta confirmed they had been involved in an incident, along with AFM and the Department of Civil Protection. They said 18 divers were reported to have been in distress and one person died.

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