CNN is reporting that four people lost their lives this weekend in a scuba diving accident near the tourist port of Palinuro in Italy.
According to the report, the accident occurred at a popular cave system known as the Blood Grotto — named for its distinct red walls, caused by a bacterial growth.
Authorities say a group of eight or nine divers originally entered as planned but became disoriented — after kicking up mud and sand from the ocean floor — and missed the exit to the cave, instead entering a nearby tunnel which led to a chamber with a dead end.
While some managed to find the correct tunnel out, the four who lost their lives went down the one leading to the closed chamber.
“It’s an easy cave but there is a dangerous tunnel that people never use,” local diving school owner Roberto Navarra told Italy’s Il Messaggero newspaper. “Four people swam into that channel.”
CNN confirmed the identities of the four victims as Douglas Rizzo, 41, from London, Andrea Pedroni, 40, from Rome, Greek-born Panaiotis Telios, 23, from Reggio Calabria, and Susy Covaccini, 36, also from Rome.
Marco Sebastiani, one of the group’s survivors, said by the time he realized the party was heading the wrong way, it was too late.
“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,” Sebastiani explained.
In response to the recent Blood Grotto drownings, a full police investigation has been ordered by an Italian magistrate.