Monday, February 28, 2011

Agnes Milowka Dies Scuba Diving Tank Cave

A shocking blow to the international dive community over the weekend, as Victorian cave diver Agnes Milowka died in one of Australia's largest underground cave systems.

World-class in her proficiency underwater, Milowka was recently a stunt diver in James Cameron's film SANCTUM.

You'll notice the footage at the beginning of this video was shot by Karst Productions. Karst was of course the production company founded by the late, great cave-diving adventurer himself, Wes Skiles.

(Feed readers click through for video)

The body of Agnes Milowka, 29, was found today, after she went missing from a group of divers in Tank Cave, South Australia yesterday afternoon.

The world-class diver and keen underwater photographer was reported missing about 1.45pm yesterday, before the death was confirmed by authorities today.


Ms Milowka was well-known in cave-diving circles and is highly experienced, describing her interests on her website as "exploration, adventure and scuba diving".

The Polish born expert HAS explored caves from Tasmania to the Bahamas, gained qualifications in maritime archeology and also worked for National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, before acting as a stunt diver for two female characters in Sanctum.

On Friday, Ms Milowka tweeted her excitement at the upcoming South Australian diving expedition.

“Another w-end of cave diving in Mt Gambier ... fabulous! Can't wait to get underground,'' she wrote.

Tank Cave stretches at least 7km underground near Mt Gambier, in South Australia's southeast.

Ms Milowka wrote about the Tank Cave system in December, describing it as the “crowning jewel” of the caves in the region, writing for Cave Diving Down Under.

At the time she believed the cave was relatively safe: “The cave is stunning, it is relatively shallow (a max depth around 20m), there is no flow to fight and the water is crystal clear - you can't go wrong really.”

But she also wrote that the system was complicated, “like a spider web gone wild” and meant divers must learn the cave carefully to navigate tight restrictions and often zero visibility.

The adventurous diver wrote she had already discovered another side passage at least 300m long in the system on a previous visit, and hoped to discover more on visits such as her tragic final one.

She said that passage was a small hole, too tiny for her buddy, but she squeezed through for a brief foray into the darkness before turning back.

On her website, Ms Milowka says she is well aware of the risks she faces everytime she submerged into the dark subterranean world of cave diving."It would be difficult to claim that caves are completely safe" she says.

"Going into caves in general carries a certain amount of risk, and then if you add water and submerge the cave then obviously the risks increase."

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Our thoughts and prayers are with Milowka's family and friends.

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