Sunday, June 8, 2008

Swedish diver describes brush with dragon in Indonesia

A Swedish diver who spent two nights marooned on an Indonesian island with four other Europeans told Sunday how she had to fight off an aggressive komodo dragon with her weight belt.

Helena Nevalainen told AFP the dragon, a member of the largest lizard species in the world, lunged at her three times before it was driven off as the divers awaited rescue on remote Rinca Island in the Komodo National Park.

"It was big... It tried to have a go at my feet," she said a day after she and her companions were rescued at the end of a two-day ordeal including more than 30 hours on the dragon-infested deserted island.

"I threw my diving belt. He came back and bit my diving belt and then he let go. After that he cam back one more time," the 38-year-old tourist said.

The Swede, three Britons and a Frenchman struggled to shore on Rinca Island overnight Thursday after getting caught in a strong current late Thursday afternoon as they dived in the treacherous waters of the Komodo Park.

She said they spent about nine hours at sea and a further 31 hours on the deserted island, which is a sanctuary for the protected komodos off the western coast of Indonesia's Flores island.

Speaking from the comfort of her hotel in this western port of Flores, Nevalainen said she was just glad to be alive.

"I am happy I'm here, I'm alive," she said.

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