BALIK PULAU: A family picnic turned tragic for Rosita Wan who watched in horror as high tide swept away her five-year-old son, who was swimming at the Pantai Pasir Panjang in Pulau Betong.
“I could only watch helplessly when I heard my son Mohd Adam Aziz shouting for help. Within five minutes, he went under water,” sobbed Rosita, 30.
A resident Maizatul Akmal, 20, whose beachside house was damaged by the tidal wave, said she was taking a shower when she heard one of her siblings shouting “keluar rumah cepat” (get out of the house immediately).
“I quickly wrapped a towel around myself and rushed out of the house, just in time to see the house submerged in the sea water,” she added.
Sungai Burung and Jalan Baru Fishermen Unit chief Abdul Rashid said about 42 fishing boats, costing about RM10,000 to RM30,000 each, were damaged while many more were missing.
Fisherman Hashim Safie, 57, who was at sea during the incident, said he immediately put on a safety float around his waist when he heard the loud waves.
“The next thing I knew, I fell off my boat and almost drowned in the sea but luckily I managed to hang on to the boat and swam to safety,” he added.
Pulau Betong assemblyman Muhamad Farid Saad urged families staying near the sea to vacate their houses as a precautionary measure.
In Batu Ferringhi, M. Parameswari, 28, who was picnicking with her family at the Miami Beach, said her four-year-old daughter was missing and they were still searching for her.
A hawker, who declined to be named, said he told the picnickers to leave the beach when he saw the tidal wave coming in at about 2.15pm.
“But the people continued to enjoy themselves and ignore my shouts,” he added.
Another hawker Rosli Hussin, 23, who has been trading by the beach for the past seven years, said he saw the first tidal wave at about 12.30pm.
A picnicker Mohd Shamson Mohd Hassan, 21, from Gurun, Kedah, said his mother, Nizari Mahmud, 39, and sister were swept underwater.
“Everything happened very fast, I just heard people shouting to get off the beach area and the next thing I knew, the tidal wave already hit us,” he said.
Batu Ferringhi resident Priscilla Ho, who saw the tidal wave through a pair of binoculars from her balcony, said this was the first time she saw such high tides after staying there for about 10 years.
“I felt terrified watching the waves coming as it reminded me of sharks moving in,” she said, adding that she saw many holidaymakers playing and enjoying themselves on the beach without noticing the sea condition.
Water sports operator Anthony Wong, 48, said he was walking along the beach when the waves came in and washed him away to a nearby stream.
“The water current was so strong that I couldn’t do anything but follow the water flow,” he said, adding that he could only get out of the water after the wave subsided.
Freelance writer Grace Chen, 33, who was at the Teluk Bahang beach, said she saw a white line of foam appearing from a distance in the sea and fast approaching the beach.
“Everyone ran helter-skelter when the wave washed about 6m up to the beach,” she said.
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