GEORGE TOWN: The search and rescue (SAR) operation to find a ferry passenger who is feared to have drowned after falling off the ferry while heading from Penang island to the mainland is underway.
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Capt Hamizan Harun said Maritime Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) Langkawi, which coordinates sea-related accidents for northern Peninsular Malaysia, started the operation after receiving a distressed call.
He said the MMEA received information from the Penang Port about an unidentified victim who had fallen into the sea at 9.24am on Friday (Feb 15).
It is believed that the victim had boarded the ferry from the Raja Tun Uda ferry terminal.
"We have not received any information about the victim yet.The authorities are still investigating if the victim had fallen from the ferry," he said in a statement on Friday (Feb 15).
He added that the operation involved four boats from MMEA, state Civil Defence Force (APM), state Marine Police and Fire and Rescue Department.
The Penang harbour had also sent two pilot boats to join in the search.
The public is advised to report any emergencies or accidents at sea through a 24-hour hotline at MERS 999 or Penang Maritime operation centre at 04-2626146.
The Fire and Rescue Department received a call from the MMEA at 11am to help in the search and rescue mission.
Meanwhile, Rapid Ferry Sdn. Bhd released a statement saying that they have commenced an internal investigation over the incident.
Based on its initial investigation, a passenger on board Pulau Undan ferry spotted a drowning person in the sea, away from the ferry at about 8.50am.
"The passenger alerted the crew member and subsequently the captain who immediately issued a man overboard code alert to the control centre.
"The Pulau Undan crew attempted to rescue the drowning person by throwing a lifebuoy.
"However, the crew lost sight of the drowning person," he added.