When a scuba diver failed to return from a late afternoon dive off a Cape Town beach Wednesday, search and rescue workers went on high alert.
South Africa's National Sea Rescue Institute mobilized after receiving an emergency call that a 42-year-old man had not returned from his last dive out into the ocean, Agence France-Presse reports. The man's friend had called in, anxious that with darkness falling the diver still had not returned to Cape Town's St. James beach.
Rescue workers launched a full-scale operation, including a police helicopter with a thermal imaging detector, to find the missing man.
But the search was soon called off after an emergency responder placed a phone call to the man's mother, expecting to have to tell her bad news, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports. Instead they learned that the man had been located — in a Cape Town jail cell.
"Fortunately the mother of the missing man informed us that her son had just called her and that he was locked up in the cells of a police station," NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon told AFP.
The man had been arrested for allegedly diving in a protected marine reserve without a permit.
"It appears that while the friend had gone for a walk along the beach, law enforcement agencies had come across the scuba diver diving and they had arrested him for apparently not having a dive permit," Lambinon said.
"All rescue resources were stood down as they were no longer required, and the man's friend was relieved to find out that he was alive and well."