An American tourist remains missing in Bali after a rafting disaster on the Ayung River. According to local reports, ten tourists and two guides capsized during a surge of high water and heavy rain on Monday, 3rd October. While nine tourists and the two guides have been rescued along the Ayung River outside of Ubud, one 62-year-old American tourist remains unaccounted for.
Bali Police and Search & Rescue teams have been working around the clock to search for the missing man, known by his initials RCN. They will continue until he is found. The other tourists on the rafting experience were from all around the world. Five were from Australia, two from India, two from Germany, and RCN from the United States.
The incident happened on a patch of the Ayung River that flows through Kedewatan Village in Ubud District. Local reporters confirmed that the incident involved two rafting vessels out on the water as one group. Ubud’s Police Chief told reporters ‘So, there are a total of 12 victims, some are safe and have been given help. There are no serious injuries, only scratches, possibly from roots or trees in the river. But for the [missing man], we can’t be sure [where he is]’.
In photos taken by passersby and eyewitnesses of the reunion of the tourists found safe, the group is visibly shaken. They share emotional hugs and are clearly traumatized by the situation and concerned for their fellow rafter.
The rafting activity started in the Banjar Bhagawan area in Melingih Kelod Village. The experience was set to finish at the Pita Maha Hotel in Kedewatan Village. During the rafting tour, heavy rain poured down and caused a surge in rapids and high waters. The boats overturned close to where the river splits at Bongkasa, just 10-minutes away from where the end of the rafting experience. Ubud Police Chief explained, ‘When it was close to the finish or about 10 more minutes, suddenly the boat capsized because the river water suddenly enlarged’.
Speaking at a press conference late on Monday night, Ida Bags Putu Samba told reporters that the search had been paused for the night by 10pm since the darkness made it dangerous to continue. The area where RCN is thought to be missing is rugged terrain. There are unstable riverine cliff soils, and the landscape is unsafe to traverse in the dark after the heavy rains. The search started again early on Tuesday morning, but at the time of writing, there had been no further reports of RCN’s whereabouts by nightfall.
The search operation is being coordinated by the Search and Rescue Department in Ubud, with support from the Bali Provincial Search and Rescue teams and the police. Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, Suamba confirmed that ‘The search will be carried out on Wednesday from 07.00 WITA, starting from the My Swing Bongkasa area, Badung. It will involve a joint team from Basarnas, BPBD Gianyar, Bali, and Badung’.
Police have confirmed that all those on the rafting experience wore life jackets. They have expressed their concern that since RCN is the oldest of the group, he may have struggled to haul himself out of the water using tree roots as so many of the others involved in the incident did. Although the search is heading into its third day, hope remains for the safe return of RCN to his loved ones.
Sadly this is the second incident of a missing tourist in Bali in just as many weeks. On Wednesday, 28th September, 68-year-old GS from the UK went missing while snorkeling in Blue Lagoon in Padang Bai. Bali Search and Rescue teams have been working around the clock to find the missing tourist who was on holiday in East Bali with his wife.
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