As the summer season approaches, the increase in the number of deaths in diving accidents in the Mediterranean worries

As the summer season approaches, the increase in the number of deaths in diving accidents in the Mediterranean worries

Le nombre de décès en plongée en Méditerranée inquiète. (illustration) Bobbi Wu sur Unsplash

Eight people have died in diving accidents since the start of the year on the French Mediterranean coasts, as many as in 2023, indicated the maritime prefecture of the Mediterranean, explaining that it would strengthen controls for the rest of the summer season.

The Mediterranean Regional Operational Surveillance and Rescue Center (Cross Med) intervened during "59 operations involving divers" in 2024, explained the maritime prefecture in a press release on Tuesday, specifying that a 52-year-old woman and a 73-year-old man had died during dives on Sunday in the Var.

"A worrying increase"

Every year we see that there are more diving accidents "at the start of the season, because it’s the resumption of activity, that people may have dived less in winter", explained Wednesday the maritime prefecture to the AFP.

In 2023, 156 operations had been coordinated by Cross Med and eight people had died, detailed the maritime prefecture in its press release, indicating that in recent years Cross Med has noted "a worrying increase in the number of interventions" linked to diving.

Dodgy material

For Frédéric Di Meglio, president of the French Federation of Underwater Studies and Sports, the number of deaths since the start of 2024 is not unusual for the start of the season.

With the long weekends in May and the resumption of activities, people "do not always have the physical shape they had before. The equipment is revised, but it is not always perfectly up to date", added Mr. Di Meglio, encouraging diving enthusiasts to favor activity in structures associative or professional.

At the start of the season, diving enthusiasts may have a tendency "to go beyond their usual performance" , he estimated.
According to him, the increase in interventions noted by the maritime prefecture can be explained by a drop in activity during the Covid-19 pandemic. "There was a drop in activity by a third" in 2020, 2021 and 2022 and now "activity is restarting", detailed Frédéric Di Meglio.

In reaction to the "concerning data" from the start of the season, the maritime prefecture affirmed that it was going "strengthening controls relating to diving".

Diving is a risky sport and therefore "you have to be trained, you have to be rested", recalled the maritime prefecture, which recommends "not to dive alone" and to "check the good condition of its material".

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