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Mitsero murders: Divers continue search, fire chief rules out draining lakes

May 14, 2019 at 4:08pm
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Divers were continuing to search for a murder victim at Kokkini Limni at Mitsero on Tuesday, a month after the discovery of a body in an abandoned mine shaft led to the arrest of a self-confessed  serial killer who has told police he killed five women and two children.

Five bodies have been recovered so far from three locations, but authorities are continuing to look for two victims – of 30 year Maricar Valdez Arquiola at Kokkini Limni and of six year old Sierra at Memi lake in Xyliatou.

Sonar equipment brought in specially from the US is now being sent back, having scanned both lakes. Authorities are also using robotic cameras and divers with special diving equipment.

Efforts have been hampered by low visibility and mud. The Cyprus News Agency reported that problems have arisen with the robotic camera and the search at Kokkini Limni is currently being carried out by a diver aiming to take advantage of the relatively good visibility of one metre. CNA said that sections of the lake have already been searched with no result and that the focus now is on the sides of the lake.

Earlier today, fire chief Markos Trangolas told Radio Active that the search at Kokkini Limni – where divers have found the bodies of a woman and her eight year old daughter and are looking for a third victim – are continuing with the same intensity.

He said that the search teams were aware of the difficulties from the beginning, adding that the huge amounts of mud were making the search for the third body – which the suspect says he put in a suitcase and threw in the lake – particularly challenging.

He said it was impossible to tell how deep the mud was and no one can say for certain whether the suitcase has been covered by mud and whether it was on a flat level, and therefore could not be detected by the sonar which can detect protrusions and other items which do not belong to the environment.

“In the past few days the divers have been searching areas that have been demarcated with ropes, creating corridors in important areas to be checked so that we can rule out some areas,” he said.

In this way, the search teams have now ruled out the east side of the lake where the two first suitcases with the bodies of a mother and daughter were found.

Trangolas said that authorities have also spoken to a UK expert about the possibility of using a radar. He said that because of the quality of the water and the morphology of the lake, it appeared that use of the radar would not bring the desired results. “We have also sent information about the Memi lake and are waiting for a reply,” he said.

The fire chief ruled out draining the lake as the head of the geological survey department has explained that this would not be possible.

“There is a crater there and draining the water will only lead to water filling it from the crater and the crater walls. No-one can tell how much water this will be,” he said.

Moreover the water is toxic and taking it elsewhere would require the approval of the environment service. There is an estimated 1 million cubic metres of water in Kokkini Limni and 2 million cubic metres at Memi lake.

Even if it was possible to empty the lakes and move the water, this would only pollute the new location where it will be taken, he said. And even if the water is removed, the problem still remained with the huge amount of mud.

That is why authorities are relying on modern equipment and sending in divers to check any findings, he concluded.