Neil Brian Joseph
LABUAN: Seven fishermen feared lost at sea on Dec 23 returned to shore safely on Monday evening, bringing much relief to their families in Pulau Gaya.
Skipper Husni Kamsi, 48, revealed that their fishing boat was hit by strong winds and huge waves, causing it to drift 97 nautical miles northwest of Labuan.
He said that on Monday morning, the boat was already half full of water and almost sank.
He and his six fellow crewmen managed to keep it afloat by tying empty tanks around it before steering it back to Pulau Gaya, arriving at the jetty around 7pm.
Husni and the other fishermen, Alkadre, 15, Appril, 18, Joppre, 21, Dadit, 23, Romli, 32, and Mulbin, 54, were all found to be in weak condition.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Sabah and Labuan regional director First Admiral Datuk Mohd Zubil Mat Som said they had received a call from the boat owner informing that the boat had arrived safely at Pulau Gaya jetty on Monday night.
“As a result, the search and rescue operation, which had covered an area of over 875 nautical miles was called off at 8.30pm on Monday.
“The Maritime Agency would like to thank the Royal Malaysian Navy (TLDM), the Royal Malaysian Airforce and Total E&P Malaysia for their assistance in the search and rescue operation,” Zubil said.
It is understood that the air and sea search was launched on Dec 24.
Five other fishermen who had also gone out to sea in as many smaller boats at about the same time were also rescued. They were brought to Labuan at 8.30am yesterday.