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Body of missing abalone diver found off Northern California coast

By Madeleine Thomas

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A San Francisco man who disappeared over the weekend while diving for abalone with a group of friends off the Northern California coast has been found dead in a sea cave, officials said on Wednesday.

Feng Chang Wei, 44, was in the ocean on Sunday with four friends off Mendocino County when strong currents and rough conditions started to pull the group into a cave situated along a bluff, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s office.

“Several of the men clung to the rocks trying to avoid being pulled into the cave,” Sergeant Dustin Lorenzo said in a statement.

“At one point Feng Wei was struck by a wave and pushed into the cave where he became distressed. His friends attempted to rescue him from the cave but were quickly overtaken by the strong waves and were forced to swim out to save their own lives,” he added.

Rescue crews responded to the area to search for Wei but could not locate him. On Monday, ocean conditions were unsafe for divers to enter the water, the statement said.

Wei’s body was found on Tuesday. The cause of his death is pending an autopsy and toxicology test.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Jim Loney)