LANGKAWI (Bernama): "The ferry stopped in the middle of the sea and we saw smoke from the engine compartment filling up the passenger area."
That was the harrowing tale shared by Nor Atiqah Norman Shah of Melaka, who was rescued after the ferry taking passengers from the Kuah Ferry Terminal to Kuala Perlis caught fire on Monday (Feb 25) evening.
She said passengers saw three crew members running from the engine section to meet the captain.
“Three times I asked them why the engine compartment was filled with smoke, but they ignored me.
“Then the passenger area on the left side and near to the engine section caught fire.
"The whole compartment was filled with smoke and that was when we were all ordered to go to the front and exit the ferry,” she told Bernama at the Kuah Ferry Terminal here.
Nor Atiqah said she and her eight family members as well as other passengers started scrambling to save themselves.
“Some had time to wear life jackets, some didn't. We were then transferred to two fishing boats and a tourist boat which had rushed to our rescue,” said Nor Atiqah, who works at a private firm in Gelang Patah, Johor.
Nor Atiqah and her family, who have been here since Saturday (Feb 23) for holidays, said all their bags and purchases went up in smoke.
Meanwhile, Suhidah Suib said the whole thing happened so fast that she too did not have time to save any of her belongings.
“The moment the ferry left the terminal, there was already a strong smell of fuel. Then the ferry stopped and it seemed like it was going to go back to the Kuah terminal.
“There was thick smoke and the back of the ferry caught fire. We were told to get out and I got into a fishing boat.
"At that time, there was a huge fire on the ferry and we even heard explosions,” said Suhidah, who was visibly shaken by the incident.
At the Kuah Ferry Terminal, various government agencies like the Royal Malaysia Police, Fire and Rescue Department, Civil Defence Force, and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency assisted the victims.
They were also provided with food and drinks prepared by several hotels.
Langkawi District Civil Defence Force Training and Disaster Operations officer Lt Azamshah Aperal said 49 victims left for Kuala Kedah on the 6pm ferry while two more were being treated at the Sultanah Maliha Hospital. - Bernama