KUCHING: The first month of this year has witnessed five boating accidents, the latest three occurring just one day apart from one another.
In Sarikei on Thursday, a fishing trip for four teenagers along Batang Rajang turned tragic as the boat they were on capsized due to strong currents.
Two boys – Edison Jang Ali, 15, and Leonardo David, 14, – managed to swim to safety in the 2.15pm incident, but their friends Samuel Ali, 13, and Anthony Abell Jimmy, 18, were nowhere to be seen.
Samuel’s body was found by the search and rescue team yesterday morning but Anthony was still missing.
On Jan 31, another fishing expedition at Muara Sebelak, Kabong in Saratok went horribly wrong when the board carrying six people overturned, leaving one person missing while the other five survived.
Then just yesterday around 5pm in Kanowit, another longboat sank, also in Batang Rajang but near Kanowit.
Fortunately all five on board survived the incident as the location was close to town and the police responded to the distress call immediately.
“However two have been brought to Kanowit Hospital for treatment,” said a spokesman from Kanowit police.
State police commissioner DCP Datuk Wira Muhammad Sabtu Osman (pic) said the identities of those involved in the Saratok incident could not be released at the moment.
“We cannot publish their identities first before consulting the family members of the victims,” he told reporters at a Chinese New Year Open House hosted by the police’s head of management department SAC Datuk Dr Chai Khin Chung in Tabuan Jaya here yesterday.
DCP Muhammad Sabtu said it was sad to note that the two incidents came right after two similar tragedies earlier this month.
The first was in Daro, Mukah on Jan 18 where 11 out of 27 passengers on board a private longboat perished after it capsized in Batang Lassa.
The second happened on Jan 24 in Sungai Sian, Bintangor, where one passenger died while 17 others survived.
On this, DCP Muhammad Sabtu advised those having to use longboats to be ready for any condition and changes while boarding river and coastal transportation.
“Sudden changes in the weather as well as condition of the seas or river like the waves and currents, are hard to predict. Do not think calm waters are safe. Wear life jackets at all times.
“Otherwise be sure to have flotation devices or objects like inflated tyres with you when you go out boating,” he advised.
The state police chief also said his men would continue carrying out campaigns and spread awareness of water transport safety at strategic jetties statewide.
DCP Muhammad Sabtu said although there were no rules requiring boat passengers to wear life jackets, he hoped that such awareness campaigns as well as recent incidents would make people realise the importance of safety in all aspects whenever they boarded water transportation.