BINTULU: Seven more bodies of persons who drowned when an express boat they were travelling in sank in Sungai Kakus, Ulu Tatau on Monday were found yesterday bringing the death toll to 13.
These included five who were reported missing on Tuesday.
The two other bodies were those of ‘Elvis’ Jau Deng, 43, and a 22-year-old female, Udah Engkeramat.
The fate of Lenny Ibin who was still missing yesterday was finally known as the nine-year-old was among the seven.
The body of three-year-old Amylia Peter was the first to be found at 12.20am yesterday followed by her father, Peter, six hours later.
The seventh body found was that of Udah at 8.50am.
In between, the rescue team found the bodies of Alicia Emelda, five, and Jau at 7.40am and that of Empam Untam, 40, at 8.15am.
The farthest that a body was found was some 300 metres from where the boat sank.
Tatau Police chief DSP Wan Zaizodin Jaafar told reporters that the search and rescue activities at the scene of the tragedy would cease temporarily until fresh reports of missing persons were received.
“All relevant departments will be put on alert in case we receive new reports about missing passengers. In the meantime, we will continue to conduct a small scale operation to search the area.”
Zaizodin who was in charge of yesterday’s operations hoped that no such tragedy would ever occur again.
“Let this tragedy be a lesson to us. Safety should always be a priority. All the relevant authorities should be more diligent in enforcing safety regulations,” he said.
He also suggested that in future, express boat passengers should be given life jackets.
The ticketing system must also be improved so that all passengers can be identified.
To skippers of passenger boats, he reminded them that as the lives of passengers are in their hands they should not be careless.
“Boats with careful and responsible skippers rarely have accidents,” he said.
He then expressed his gratitude to all the departments and other parties involved in the search and rescue after the express boat sank.
“The nearby timber camp provided a crane for lifting up the boat while the workers also helped in other way. Others who were helpful were family members of victims as well as survivors. Overall, the search and rescue mission can be considered a success.”
About 74 persons from Tatau police department, Sarawak Rivers Board, Malaysia Maritime Agency, Fire and Rescue Department, Civil Defence Department, the local District Office and Marine Police were involved in the three-day mission.
Seven divers, seven boats, and two jet-skis were used in the operation.