Malaysian tourist dies after huge wave sweeps him away at Nusa Penida’s Diamond Beach, prompting safety concerns

The Nusa islands are located just to the southeast of Bali. Photo: Dim Dimitri / Pexels
The Nusa islands are located just to the southeast of Bali. Photo: Dim Dimitri / Pexels

A 40-year-old Malaysian tourist died yesterday after he was swept away by a huge wave and drowned at Nusa Penida island’s Diamond Beach. 

In a statement, Nusa Penida sub-district Police identified the victim as Shahfulnizam bin Jamaludin. The tourist and his wife visited Diamond Beach at around noon yesterday, where he went to swim on his own while his wife waited on the beach. 

“…The victim went to swim by himself, while his wife sat on the beach. Not long after that, he was hit by a huge wave and was dragged further into the sea,” the statement said. 

Jamaludin was reportedly able to stay afloat for about an hour while he tried to fight the waves and return to the shore, but was continuously hit by relentless waves, and eventually drowned. 

By the time local residents arrived to try and rescue him using a canoe, Jamaludin was already unconscious, and his face had turned blue.

“The body of the deceased is now with Pratama Nusa Penida Hospital as we await the family’s decision and word from the consulate,” Putu Gede Ardana, spokesman from the Klungkung Police, told reporters yesterday. 

The Nusa islands

Nusa Penida sub-district is part of Klungkung regency and is also the name of the biggest of the three Nusa islands located just to the southeast of Bali. Along with Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan, the three islands have attracted more and more tourists in recent years. 

These islands, though only a 30-minute boat ride away from the main island, are relatively underdeveloped. The lack of infrastructure doesn’t seem to drive tourists away, but instead is part of the “laid-back charm” that draws even more visitors. The islands, of course, offer spectacular views of the ocean and are renowned for their snorkeling and diving activities. 

On the other side of that glossy image is a poor safety record, including multiple accidents recorded near or at the Devil’s Tear cove of Nusa Lembongan. Earlier this week, two foreigners died after a boat capsized due to strong waves near the popular tourist attraction. 

Shortly after yesterday’s incident, the chairman of the Indonesian Tour Guide Association (HPI), I Nyoman Nuarta, suggested that there should be a moratorium on the Nusa islands. 

“We think there should be an agency or authority in charge of managing the tourism around Nusa Penida [sub-district],” Nuarta told Detik yesterday.

I Nyoman Suwirta, head of Klungkung regency, criticized the suggestion of a moratorium, highlighting how it would affect the livelihoods of Nusa Penida residents, who are opening up to the prospects of tourism. 

According to Suwirta, there’s many different aspects to consider before deciding on how best to handle the safety issues in Nusa Penida, which will require cooperation from various stakeholders.

“If such a moratorium is applied, what will [the local residents] eat? Don’t be so rash,” Suwirta said.

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