IT was a rescue mission at sea yesterday but with a difference.
The mission was successful, in that a $1million property at sea was saved from floating further away after its mooring lines were cut by a group of men.
Some tourists who were on Cloud 9, a restaurant and bar located in open seas off Tavarua Island in the Malolo Group, reportedly left for their nearby island resorts after the men came armed with caneknives while others remained.
The incident has left the owner of Cloud 9, Tony Philp, scared as the men from a village in Nadi had warned his staff of returning last night. Mr Philp said he received a phone call at 10am yesterday when he was on the mainland and informed about the incident.
"The villagers came over with caneknives and cut our (Cloud 9) mooring lines, which were attached to the ocean bed," he said.
"The whole structure drifted into the ocean and I called my friend Scotty O'Connor, the owner of Namotu Island Resort, and asked him to send boats to secure the platform .
"The villagers threatened my staff that they will come back tonight (yesterday). This is not the first time we have been threatened by the same village people.
"When we started on June 3, they came and threatened us on a few occasions and I then met with the village head, the provincial administration officials and police to present a sevusevu to the villagers."
Mr Philp said he had told the villagers that his business was a legal entity and jobs would be given to the villagers. He said the meeting lasted seven hours.
"It is sad that people from our country are treating us like foreigners. We have got legal permits to be here.
"As a local, it saddens me to see there are elements who have no respect for the law and it doesn't send out a good message. We are scared, disappointed and sad.
"I'm just hoping that these people will be taken to task and they face the full brunt of the law. The onus is on the authorities to come down hard.
"Luckily it happened during the day. If it happened at night, then the $1million investment would have gone."
Mr Philp said there was no damage to the platform but his business had been disrupted. He said the incident was not good public relations for his business.
Two police officers were on Cloud 9 yesterday, taking statements from the four staff members who were present during the incident.
Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro said police were aware of the report and they are investigating the matter.