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Fiji Time: 3:01 AM on Sunday 20 April

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Diving trip turns tragic

Shalveen Chand
Thursday, December 19, 2013

THE last thing 17-year-old Sitiveni Kaila saw of his brother were his hands above the water and just like that, Kitione Tubuka was gone.

The 18-year-old is the latest drowning victim.

Tubuka, Kaila, former boxer Joe Ravudi and a friend had gone diving for fresh water mussels on Tuesday morning at Koroqaqa in Baulevu.

Kaila said the last words he had spoken to his elder brother were the night before.

"We had breakfast then set out to look for kai," Kaila said.

"Suddenly the currents became strong.

"In less than a minute the water level rose from our hips to our chest."

Kaila said they began to hastily make their way back to the river bank against the rising water level.

"The last thing I saw were Kiti's hands above the water," he said.

Tubuka's body was recovered four hours later by the police.

His father Sitiveni Kaila Sr was clearly distraught.

With tears in his eyes he recalled the day he last spoke to his son..

"It was one week ago, it was a Monday evening when I called him and asked him to accompany me to clean the graves," said Mr Kaila.

"Kiti and Siti were staying with Joe Ravudi, the boxer.

"Kiti was working as a bouncer at Whistling Duck and both the boys stayed with Ravudi at Vunivivi.

"Kiti told me he would be home the next day, but before he arrived, I had left to do work on the graves."

Tubuka's mother, Matelita Kaila, at their Kuku, Nausori, home listened to her husband but she was angry as well.

"My son drowned in the day and we were informed at around 9pm last (Tuesday) night," she said.

The family will decide on a burial date after an autopsy today.

The drowning has prompted the police to issue yet another warning about the need for people to heed water safety advice.

Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro said all precaution and a careful study of the weather should also be done when going on fishing or diving expeditions.

The drowning toll is 45 compared to 66 this time last year.