Poly Pantelides –
One of the world’s top ten wreck dives, the Zenobia, which lies just off the Larnaca coast, is now off limits after a controversial decision by the port authorities which has enraged divers.
“It’s going to cripple every single dive school.
The Zenobia is the one place that pulls divers in,” said Alex Dimitriou who is just about to set up a diving school in Cyprus.
The Zenobia sits at a depth of 42 metres on the seabed with the top lying at 15 metres making it accessible to novices yet still challenging to advanced divers.
The 12,000 tonne 178-metre long ferry sank in 1980, taking with it some 1,000 lorries, industrial machinery and other cargo.
Divers can see vending machines, sinks and even unbroken eggs, all well preserved because conditions allow for a slow corrosion.
“It’s like no other wreck,” Dimitriou said. But port authorities decided to ban diving in port waters for “legal reasons”, port authorities’ general director Yiannakis Kokkinos said. Kokkinos said that the family of a woman who died while diving in 2010 were “considering legal action against port authorities because they consider us responsible for her death”.
Catherine Vicar, 33, was found unconscious in the engine room of the Zenobia shipwreck in October 2010.
She had separated from her group and ran out of air while underwater.
“Look, diving can be dangerous if people do not follow safety precautions and that accident was very unfortunate.
But in my years of diving in Zenobia, there were four deaths that I know of even though thousands dive each year.
Compare that to some 15 who have died off Cape Greco,” a diving instructor told the Sunday Mail on condition of anonymity.
The instructor said that there were a number of safety precautions in place including extra air tanks six metres down and rails to hold on during decompression stops.
But the instructor thought banning diving outright was “extremely arbitrary”.