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Diver became disoriented, suffocated: = friend

18:02 AEST Tu= e Mar 1 2011
By ninemsn staff with AAP
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3D"Agnes
Agnes Milowka died on Sunday while exploring caves. (James Axford)
3D"Agnes
Agnes Milowka believed cave diving was the essence of exp= loration. (Flickr)

= = = =
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

A woman who died while diving in South Austr= alia's Tank Cave ran out of air and suffocated after becoming disoriente= d, according to a fellow diver.

Dr Richard Harris is part of a team of divers trying to retrieve Agnes M= ilowka's body from the cave near Mt Gambier and was also a close friend = of the 29-year-old, Adelaide Now reports.

"It looks like she has remained very calm right to the very last breath = while she has been working to extricate herself", Dr Harris said.

Dr Harris, who described Ms Wilowka as an "aggressive diver," said it wa= s difficult to get through the narrow parts of the cave because there wa= s low visibility.

"She can't turn very quickly, she can't see anything and she has been un= able to work out the way to get out of the cave and she has run out of a= ir," he said.

Cave divers are widening underwater channels so they can begin the slow = process of retrieving the Ms Milowka's body after she died on Sunday.

She was found dead after becoming separated from her diving buddy on Sun= day in the 8km-long channel system.

Tank Cave is one of Australia's longest underwater caves.

Police and cave divers spent Tuesday trying to clear and widen the chann= els to make it easier to retrieve her body, which is 600 metres from the= sink hole entrance.

Superintendent Trevor Twilley says three teams of two divers each have b= een in the cave and a fourth dive may still be needed on Tuesday.

= "If we don't, then we will commence the retrieval process tomorrow," he = said.

"The difficulties aren't significant ... other than the visibility."

=

Just moving a piece of rubble stirs up enough sediment to drop visibilit= y to almost zero for several hours, he said.

The body retrieval is unlikely to be completed on Wednesday.

"It is likely to be much longer," the superintendent said.

"It is a fairly extensive and complex operation and given the complexity= of the cave system and how narrow some parts of the cave system is ... = it could be a couple of days, anywhere up to maybe 10 dives.

"Some of the divers, when they are going through a particular channel, h= ave the walls of the cavity pressed up against the front of their body a= nd the back of their body."

Superintendent Twilley said police won't know what happened until they r= ecover and test Ms Milowka's equipment.

It is understood her parents are at the site.

Ms Milowka believed cave diving was the essence of exploration and knew = the risks, but said on her website the rewards were worth it.

 
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