A SECOND diver is missing - presumed dead - after a dive on the wreck of the Kyarra off Swanage.

The 22-year-old man, from Northampton, was an experienced diver who had been diving off Swanage regularly for the past two to three years.

He was spotted emerging from the water six feet from the dive boat following an early morning dive on Monday but in the time it took to turn the boat to pick him up he had sunk and disappeared.

Seven lifeboats from as far as Weymouth and Poole, along with two coastguard helicopters, made a frantic search from Durlston Head, along the tidal stream to Hengistbury Head, but after an intensive eight hours there was still no sign of him.

Suspending the search, Mark Rodaway, coastguard operations manager, said: "We are deeply disappointed that we have not been able to achieve a successful outcome for this particular incident. Our thoughts are with the friends and family of the missing man."

Pat Collins of Swanage Dive School said: "This is absolutely devastating, he was only a young lad.

"He had a normal dive and he came up normally, he was on the surface and the skipper went to pick him up but he sank back down into the water and disappeared."

She added: "I can't believe it - we've had a dive boat here for seven years and never had anything like this happen.

"The skipper has 23 years' experience and nothing like this has ever happened to him before."

The tragic incident follows the loss of a 48-year-old woman diver who failed to surface following a dive off the Kyarra on Thursday, August 4.

The woman's body has still not been found despite police using sonar equipment to search the seabed.

The missing man was one of a group of five divers from the same diving club in Northampton and had set off from Swanage at 6.10am. The alarm was raised at 7.25am and Swanage inshore lifeboat arrived within minutes.

The same group had gone on a dive on Sunday and was due to dive again today.

Swanage coastguard Dave Ogden said: "He surfaced with no mask on and he had taken his mouthpiece out, but he had the bottles on his back. He gave the OK sign but when the skipper turned the boat to help him out he had gone."

Pat Collins said: "They are all absolutely devastated, so upset - nobody can see any reason for why it happened."

The circumstances surrounding the incident will be reported to the British Sub Aqua Club, which, in turn, will issue advice to other agencies such as the Maritime Coastguard Agency and RNLI if they think there are lessons to be learned.

One question being asked is whether it would be better to ensure dive boats have at least two crew so that a constant watch can be kept on surfacing divers.

Jim Watson, a BSAC coaching manager, said: "If the diver has a buddy with them then we can sometimes learn if they have run out of air at the bottom and managed to get to the surface and then sunk again."

Mr Watson said the Kyarra wreck was listed in the top 25 best dives in Britain.

First published: August 23