Two foreigners drowned; revived woman lives


RECOVERED: Rescuers emerge from the water with Jung’s body as members of the group rush towards them.

SANTUBONG: Tragedy struck a group of holidaying South Koreansafter two male members drowned while trying to save a female compatriot at a beach resort here yesterday.

The dead have been identified as Kim Sung Hyun, 20, and Jung Yo Han, 24.

The incident took place at Damai Beach, about 35kmfrom Kuching, when the holidaying South Korea nationals, who were said to have arrived in the city threedays ago, checked into a beach resort yesterday for what was supposed to be an overnight stay.

It was believed that the group went ahead with their swim despite being informedby hotel staff about the raising of yellow warning flags along the length of the beach, indicating the dangerous sea conditions at the time the 3pm incident occurred.

One female member of the group, a 24-year-old, was said to have been swept out  by the strong waves before the two victims swam out in an attempt to rescue her.

However, they were themselves overcome by thestrong waves and soon disappeared, prompting the remaining members of the group to immediately alert hotel staff.

An 18-member beach patrol unit under the Civil Defence Department stationed at the beach sprang into action as soon as they got word of the incident.

One of the personnel, Abdul Razak Ibrahim, said he was the first to spot the female victim’s body floating about 100 feet from shore.

“I was using my binoculars to scour the sea  when I saw her body in the water, and I immediately used a surf board to paddle out and retrieve her,” said the 45-year-old, adding she was unconscious at the time but that rescuers managed to successfully revive her and rushed her to hospital.

Meanwhile, Kim’s body was recovered not far away at 3.30pm by firemen and members of the public, who had joined in the search operation, while Jung was found about 4.10pm several metres away from where his compatriot was discovered.

Rescuers frantically tried to resuscitate both victims as soon as they were pulled out, but failed to revive them.

They were pronounced  dead on the spot by paramedics.

Reporters covering the incident, along with curious hotel guests, were warned against taking photographsby distraught members of the entourage.

A New Straits Times’ photographer ended up being attacked by one of the group’s male member, who delivered a ‘flying kick’ to his arm while he was snapping photos of the tragic event.

The attacker, a young male, later offered his apologies to the pressman, saying that he had lost his cool in the heat of the moment.

District police chief ACP Mun Kock Keong, who was  present at the scene, said that the group of holidaymakers had checked into the resort around 2pm before heading down to the beach soon afterwards.

“I was told by the hotel management that its staff had informed the group of the dangerous conditions of the beach and warned themnot to go swimming, but that they went ahead anyway,” he said. “We are now looking for a translator so that we can record statements from the remaining members about the incident.”

The bodies of the two victims were later sent to Sarawak General Hospital for a post-mortem.