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June 12, 2020, 04.21 PM

MADIUN, – A senior diver stole the show during the search for a boy who had drowned in the Bengawan Madiun River in Madiun, Indonesia’s East Java Province on Wednesday 6 June.

Sukiro, who may not come across as your regular diver, is popularly known as Mbah Sukir (Mbah is the Javanese word for grandfather). He immediately descended to a depth of four meters without full diving gear. He was only wearing his pants, hat, and goggles when locating the 14-year-old drowning victim who had gone missing since Tuesday afternoon.

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Before Dzuhur (midday prayer), Sukiro found the body of the boy at the bottom of the river. However, he was unable to continue the search because he had no earplugs.

“I forgot to use earplugs. I then had to emerge from the water as my ears hurt. After noontime, I hope the body will not move to the north. I actually touched him already but his body was tilted and not moving,” he said.

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He immediately informed a joint rescue team and asked them to only focus on the search in the areas that he had already been into. Sure enough, an hour later, after Dzuhur, the body was found floating not too far from the scene and was then brought home.

The go-to senior diver to find drowning victims

Sukiro, who is lean and wears thick glasses and has a long white beard, is no stranger to the people of Madiun. They know him as the go-to guy for searching for drowning victims.

For decades, the diver who has three grandchildren has been volunteering to search for drowning victims not only in Madiun but also in other places. To date, he has recovered more than 60 dead bodies in various areas in East Java.

"If I count, maybe more than 60 drowning victims have been discovered. Usually, when I hear of a drowning victim I immediately go to the scene,” said Sukiro, who has been diving since he was a child.

The swim coach at Merdeka Hotel and cycling coach in Madiun said that he is not afraid of diving despite his age. He believes that when people do a sincere gesture of kindness then good things will come. 

“If we do good things with a sincere heart, I believe we will be safe,” said Sukiro.

He said that there is no special preparation and ritual before diving. He is able to dive without the use of a breathing apparatus for four minutes. But when unwell, he can only freedive for a minute.

He relies on his sense of smell and instinct when locating a drowning victim. Usually, he can detect stench underwater.

The head of the Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) in Madiun, Agus Hariono, said Sukiro often helps search for drowning victims in the Bengawan Madiun River. He knows it by heart.

Mbah Sukir is one with the Bengawan Madiun River. He is actually not a volunteer, but he is very eager to help people from drowning,” said Agus.

(Writer: Muhlis Al Alawi | Editor: David Oliver Purba)


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