The trio and their instructor got into trouble Wednesday after they surfaced from a dive near a southern island but could not find their boat.
The Briton, 46-year-old Adrian Chesters, and Frenchwoman Alexia Molina, 18, were discovered by fishermen in the waters of neighboring Indonesia, picked up by marine police and taken back to Malaysia.
They were found about 30 kilometers north of Indonesia’s Bintan Island ‒ having drifted some 130km from where they had been diving.
The pair have been admitted to a Malaysian hospital in a stable condition, said local police chief Cyril Edward Nuing in the coastal town of Mersing, the base for search operations.
The instructor, Norwegian woman Kristine Grodem, had already been rescued on Thursday in waters off southern Malaysia.
Chesters’s son, 14-year-old Nathen, who holds Dutch citizenship, remains missing and officials believe he has drifted into Indonesian waters.
There is a “high possibility that he is not in Malaysian waters, based on the flow of the current and the time and place where these two [Peters and Molina] were found,” said Nuing.
“We decided to stop the search and rescue in Malaysian waters and we have informed Indonesian parties to continue [it].”
Malaysian authorities remain on standby in case they need to resume the hunt, he added.
In recent days, Malaysia had deployed helicopters, a plane, boats, divers and jet skiers to hunt over a large area.
Authorities did not give details on how the rescued trio survived a long period drifting at sea, and said they have not yet been questioned in detail about their ordeal.
Previously, officials had expressed hope the divers would be found alive as they had substantial experience and were well equipped, including with a diving buoy.
They also said that light rains in recent days might help the divers survive by providing drinking water.
On Thursday, the French teen’s mother Esther Molina said from Mersing that the family were “hoping for the best. She’s a strong girl, she’ll kick ass.”
Grodem had been instructing the divers close to a small island, Tokong Sanggol, about 15km off Malaysia’s southeast coast, when the accident happened.
After a dive lasting about 40 minutes, they surfaced but could not find their boat. They drifted together in strong currents, but ended up getting separated.
The captain of the boat who took them to the dive site has been arrested after testing positive for drugs.
The area where the accident happened is popular with foreign and domestic visitors ‒ resorts dot the coast and the islands.
Diving accidents, while rare, do occasionally happen in Malaysia.
In 2013, a British tourist died when she was struck by a passing boat’s propeller while diving off resort islands in the South China Sea.
The tropical Southeast Asian nation’s borders reopened to foreign tourists on Apr 1 after a two-year coronavirus closure, and thousands of visitors have arrived.