British man dies in diving tragedy at Italian tourist resort
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A British man was one of four who died in a scuba diving accident near the tourist port of Palinuro in Italy this weekend.
Douglas Rizzo, 40, who was born in London but had been living in Rome, was leading a party of tourists in a scuba diving trip in a submerged cave called "Blood Grotto, popular because of its red walls caused by a bacterial growth.
But the group lost their bearings and panicked after kicking up mud from the floor with their flippers.
Massimo Ruggiero, the coastguard commander in Palinuro, said the group became confused when trying to exit the cave and instead entered a tunnel with a dead end.
According to the Telegraph, he said: "The entrance to the cave is through a tunnel at a depth of 13 to 14 metres. The group should then have swum up to a higher tunnel and made their exit from the cave through that.
"Beneath this channel there is another tunnel that leads to a dead end in a chamber with a sandy floor. All the victims were found there."
Ruggiero confirmed to CNN that the victims as Rizzo, 41, who leaves a wife and six-month old son, Andrea Pedroni, 40, from Rome, Greek-born Panaiotis Telios, 23, from Reggio Calabria, and Susy Covaccini, 36, also from Rome.
There were four other divers who survived the tragedy. One of them, Marco Sebastiani, told Italy's Il Messaggero newspaper: "All of a sudden the guide started to panic ... I knew something was wrong but at that point we had already entered the cave and we were going in even further. I tried to take control but it was too late.
"We suddenly found ourselves in a blind tunnel. We couldn't see anything. At that point it was panic. The agitation of the least experienced took hold. Mud and sand came up from the bottom of the cave and visibility was gone."
Sebastiani, who owns a diving school in Rome, added: "At a certain point I managed to find my way. I took as many people as I could with me and we swam towards the light, which grew bigger all the time. When I came up, I looked around to count us and I realised that Susy, Andrea, Douglas and Panos weren't there. I dove back in and went looking for them but I couldn't see them. Then my tank ran out of oxygen.""
Valter Ciociano, an expert diver from nearby Marina di Camerota, described how many of the 35 underwater caves that are attractive to divers have muddy bottoms.
"Often when you go in, the water is clear and you don't notice that your flippers are muddying the water behind you, creating what seems an impenetrable wall. On these occasions it's panic that rules the day."
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