A Guardia Civil underwater search team at the scene. / SUR

Sixteen divers and a motorised robot join reservoir search for missing Malaga military man

The 23-year-old Army sergeant was taking part in a training exercise in El Grado, Huesca

ÁLVARO FRÍAS / JUAN CANO

A motorised robot and underwater cameras are helping sixteen police divers in their search for Malaga-born Army sergeant who went missing while on a military training exercise in Huesca.

The alarm was raised at 3am on Tuesday, 12 October, after Mario Quirós Ruiz was declared missing in the El Grado reservoir. It is reported that the military were doing evening practices in pairs and during one of the dives, the sergeant was lost track of and did not surface again.

The Guardia Civil’s GEAS underwater search team have been drafted in to help in the search for the young man, who would have turned 23 years old this Friday, 15 October.

"We first made the visibility, depth and water temperature checks before starting our dives," explains Jesús Fernández, who is the person in charge of the GEAS rescue mission in Huelva.

Wide search area

"But it is not easy," says the diving expert. The fact that the disappearance happened at night has meant that the divers do not have a specific reference point to work in and therefore the search area is very wide.

Another drawback faced by the 16 GEAS divers is the depth of the reservoir, which reaches 72 metres in places, and very cold. The regular air bottles that the rescue teams use only allows divers to descend to 50-metres so as special supply has been called in from Madrid. “But first we have to locate the exact point to carry out the rescue,” explains Fernández.

Motorised underwater robot

Meanwhile, a Guardia Civil robot and underwater cameras are scouring the area, directed by a team on surface aboard an inflatable boat. The GEAS head indicates that the work could last for weeks, since they do not have an exact area to track. "But a stroke of luck could bring everything to an end sooner," he says.

The good visibility of the water in the reservoir and the lack of currents plays in the rescue group’s favour and since Tuesday their efforts have not stopped as they work from sunrise to sunset to locate Sergeant Mario Quirós as soon as possible.