Pastor in copter crash died while carrying out duties

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 19 Jul 2003


MIRI: The late Pastor Kalib Besar, who was killed in a helicopter crash on Thursday evening, died “an honourable death” while carrying out his duty to God and to the people of his church, said his friends and church members. 

Pastor Kalib, 49, who was president of the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) Church, was a faithful and dedicated servant to God, to his family and to the 90,000-plus parishioners of the SIB Church throughout Sarawak, SIB deputy president Pastor Justine Wan, who yesterday assumed the acting president’s post, said. 

Pastor Kalib:Was killedtogether with Gabriel

“He had dedicatedly performed his duties for about 20 years. He was on his way to Mount Murud to conduct a prayer service at a retreat centre near the top of the mountain when the tragedy happened. 

“He had just left a timber camp and had only flown about 2km when the helicopter crashed. 

“Initial reports stated that the helicopter hit some trees due to poor visibility caused by bad weather inside the interior,” Pastor Wan, 43, said at the SIB Church headquarters here. 

Mount Murud, measuring 2,500m high, is located on the mountain range bordering Kalimantan. It is the highest mountain in Sarawak and surrounded by high peaks and dense virgin jungles. 

Pastor Kalib was killed together with the pilot Captain Gabriel Buja, 35. 

The Bell 206 helicopter belonged to aviation company Hornbill Skyways, a local company owned by the state government. 

Pastor Kalib took over the president’s post last year. He held a degree in theology from a British university.  

He leaves a wife Mura Bala, 49, three daughters and a son.  

Meanwhile, state assemblyman for Telang Usan, Lihan Jok, yesterday visited the church and the family to offer his condolences. 

The bodies of the deceased were flown from the Lawas hospital back to their hometowns yesterday afternoon. The late pastor will be buried at the SIB cemetery here today.  

Hornbill Skyways Marketing head Zawawi Abdul Rahman said yesterday the body of the pilot would be flown to Kuching. 

“We (Hornbill Skyways) have deployed a Dornier aircraft to fly back his body and that of the late pastor after a post mortem at the Lawas Hospital early this morning,” he told Bernama. 

Zawawi described Gabriel, a father of three, as a friendly and jovial colleague, who joined the company about two years ago after leaving the Royal Malaysian Air Forces (RMAF). 

While in the RMAF, he was decorated by Queen Elizabeth II for valour for his role in rescuing British solders lost on Mount Kinabalu in Sabah a few years ago. 

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