KOTA KINABALU: Two Chinese tourists and their local divemaster were believed to be killed by fish bombs while diving in waters off Semporna in Sabah's east coast on Friday (July 5).
Tourism operators are blaming fish bombing activities for the cause of the deaths, but police have yet to officially confirm it.
It is learnt that prior to the 5pm incident, a local Semporna divemaster had taken the two male Chinese tourists for their dive.
The two Chinese tourist were identified as Zhao Zheng and Xu Yingjie.
According to witnesses in Semporna, there were several fishing boats operated by sea gypsies near where the three divers were killed during the incident.
Sabah police commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah said they were still gathering information and trying to ascertain the cause of death.
"From some of the witnesses we spoke to, we learned that there were fishing boats near the location, but no one actually heard the fish bombs going off," he said.
He said they were also verifying the identities of the victims.
China's Deputy Consul General in Kota Kinabalu, Zhang He, confirmed that two of their nationals died in the incident.
Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (SATTA) president Datuk Winston Liaw condemned fishermen using fish bombs in their operations and urged authorities to take immediate action against the offenders.
"Take action that will serve as a lesson to all. Otherwise, they will keep on doing the same thing," he said.
He also urged all professional divemasters and tourists to be alert, and not to dive close to fishermen's boats or boat propellers, which are equally dangerous.