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Saturday June 8, 2013

Outsourcing as a viable option

KUCHING: The State Disaster Relief Committee has decided to engage expert divers from Kuala Lumpur to help in the Belaga express boat tragedy search and rescue mission.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu (pic) said the secretary of National Safety Council (MKN) had been entrusted to discuss the matter with relevant parties to reinforce the current team of divers, who could include those from the Royal Navy and Marine Police.

“Our divers from various departments have done their best, but because the water current (in the river) is so fast plus other challenging conditions, it is not possible to recover the sunken express boat.

“Nevertheless, we have not given up hope. Voluntary expert divers are also welcomed,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

The strong and fast current, he said, had curtailed efforts to lift up Kawan Mas, which overturned and sank on May 28.

“We are now looking at expert divers with sophisticated equipment which can withstand the strong current. We are outsourcing for the reinforcements,” Jabu said.

In the tragedy, 213 passengers have been reported to be safe while two — Roslin Jati and Maurice Ajan — are still missing. The body of another passenger, Tujuk Lah, 44, from Nanga Merit, was found on May 30.

Efforts to recover the capsized boat was hampered by the strong current.

Jabu added that the state government was willing to bear whatever costs to be incurred in the rescue mission.

“Whenever there are natural disasters, expenses are immaterial but the intention is to do a good job. We are prepared to spend more,” he added.

Jabu also advised those who would be leaving their respective home towns this weekend to abide by the limitations so as not to jeopardise their safety.

It was reported that given the number of survivors as well as those still missing, Kawan Mas had carried nearly three times the allowed capacity of 75 people during that fateful day.

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