ALOR SETAR : Four fishermen were rescued after their fishing trawler caught fire at 9.20pm on Monday approximately 1.5 nautical miles southwest of Pulau Segantang.
The Class C trawler was heading to the Kuala Kedah fishing jetty with four Thai seamen and one tonne of catch on board when the fire broke out.
When met at the Kuala Kedah jetty, the vessel’s owner said that he had received a distress call from the captain, who told him that the incident had been reported to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).
“I received a distress call from the captain (tekong) at about 11.40pm informed me that the fishing boat was on fire,” said 50-year old Tan Kok Seng.
Tan added that the crew tried to put out the fire using the water stored at plastic drums on board before abandoning the boat when the fire could not be put out.
He said the crew jumped into the sea while holding onto life-buoys and plastic drums before they were rescued by two other fishing boats that were alerted to the incident.
“Fishermen on board the two fishing boats helped to put out the fire. The boat was towed to the Kuala Kedah jetty and it was half-burnt down,” said Tan.
He said that the captain told him the fire started in the engine room before spreading rapidly to the crew cabins, the navigation room and fuel storage compartments.
“It was lucky no one was injured in the incident. All the personnel documents of the crews including the boat’s documents were destroyed in the fire,” added Tan.
The boat had left Kuala Kedah at 6am on Friday and it was scheduled to return to Kuala Kedah on Tuesday morning.
It ultimately arrived at Kuala Kedah at 6am on Tuesday, having been towed back by other fishing boats.
“The estimated loss of the 15-year old boat due to the fire is about RM400,000. I had insurance cover, but the amount from it isn’t much,” said Tan.
Tan however added that he was happy that the 1 tonne of catch was sold for about RM 6,000 at the Kuala Kedah jetty.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Kuala Kedah Base Operation Officer Sub-Lieutenant Meor Hamzah Badri Shah was at the Kuala Kedah fishing jetty to carry out investigations and an inspection of the boat.
He said that the boat’s captain believed a leaking fuel pipe caused the fire.
“At 12.45am, a MMEA rescue boat with 6 personnel arrived at the scene. When they arrived, fishermen from two other boats had put out the fire on board,” said Sub-Lieutenant Meor Hamzah.