Oil from backhoe could lead rescuers to missing man


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 17 Apr 2005

BIDOR: Rescuers detected traces of fuel in a pool caused by a vast sinkhole where heavy machine operator Chai Wooi Chon and his backhoe are believed to be buried. 

Officer-in-charge of the Bidor fire station A. Ravi said rescue workers detected traces of oily residue thought to be leaking from Chai’s submerged backhoe at 5.30pm yesterday.  

The oil, he said, was the first sign into Chai’s possible location in the 9m-deep muddy pool measuring 60m by 45m. 

“There’s a strong possibility we will find Chai and the backhoe at the spot,” he said. 

Chai, 40, from Kampung Cold Stream, had gone missing since the sinkhole appeared on a plot of former mining land in Pekan Pasir, near here on Friday morning.  

Many parts of the Kinta Valley are former tin mining areas and sinkholes have occurred there in the past.  

Rescuers searching for the body of Chai Wooi Chon in a9m-deep pool in Pekan Pasir, near Bidor yesterday. Chai wasbelieved to have been swallowed along with his backhoe intothe pool formed by a giant sinkhole which suddenly appearedon former mining land on Friday.

Chai, hired to clear the site, is believed to have been swallowed by the pool, choked with mud, swampy water and debris. 

Ravi said Fire and Rescue Department personnel and volunteers would continue their search today on the far side of the sinkhole where the residue was detected 

While 11 rescue divers searched for Chai in the deepest part of the sinkhole pool, volunteers started draining the water from the pool with two water pumps. 

Four of Chai’s brothers and a group of friends joined in the search. 

Farmer Teong Hock Ming, 64, who is Chai’s father-in-law, said it had pained him to tell his daughter on Friday night that her husband had met with “an accident”. 

“I was supposed to pick him up after he had finished clearing the land. I waited and waited all day for his call, but I never heard from him again. 

Since Friday, rescue personnel had concentrated their efforts on the far side of the sinkhole where Chai’s aluminium flask was found. 

Tapah MP Datuk S. Veerasingam said he would ask geologists to conduct a survey of the site to ensure that residents were in no danger of further sinkholes. 

“I will try and see if I can help get financial aid for Chai’s family, perhaps from the district officer, state government or the natural disaster fund,” said Veerasingam who is also Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister.  

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