Thursday, January 27

Body of UBD student arrives home after Tawau tragedy

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BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: The body of one of the two students who went missing after being swept away by strong currents during a field research trip at a river in Tawau, Sabah was found by a group of fishermen at about 3pm yesterday, Borneo Bulletin reported.

Following this tragic news, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has consented to send his message of condolence to the family of the victim, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said last night.

The body of Muhd Azizan bin Mohd Sidek, a second year Bachelor of Science (Major in Geology) student from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) was found five kilometres away from the scene of the mishap in Sungai Balung.

A Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAirF) CN235 Aircraft flew the body of Muhd Azizan to the Royal Brunei Air Force Base in Kg Rimba at 9.41pm last night along with family members who had arrived in Sabah Friday night.

Present at the Rimba Air Force Base were the Minister of Education, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong; Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abd Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister’s Office; as well as Deputy Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Deputy Permanent Secretaries and senior officials from various government agencies.

Personnel from the RBAirF carried the body of the late Muhd Azizan out from the aircraft led by his father, Mohd Sidek bin Hj Md Ali. The body was later brought to his house in Kg Rimba for funeral rites and he was later buried at the Kg Pulaie Cemetery. The funeral was attended by hundreds of family members as well as ministers and senior officials.

Meanwhile, rigorous search and rescue efforts to find another male student are still ongoing at press time yesterday. Rescue teams from neighbouring state of Sabah were joined by their Bruneian counterparts following orders by His Majesty.

In a phone interview, a police officer at the Operation Room of Tawau’s District Police Headquarters late last night revealed that search and rescue operations were still ongoing.

Personnel from government agencies comprising the RBAirF, Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF), Fire and Rescue Department and doctors and paramedics from the Ministry of Health were flown in to Tawau via chartered Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) flight BI 1821 at 10.15am and RBAirF’s CN235 Aircraft with 14 army personnel departed at 11.40am yesterday.

His Majesty had ordered for the remaining 26 UBD students and lecturers involved in the tragic incident to be immediately flown back to the country on the same RB aircraft. They safely arrived at the Brunei International Airport at 3pm yesterday and were transported to the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital for medical check-up.

UBD in a press conference yesterday expressed its deepest regret over the unfortunate incident. “This is a very sad moment for the whole of UBD and we would like to send our sympathies to the families of the victims,” said Hjh Anis Faudzulani Hj Dzulkiflee, Assistant Vice Chancellor (Corporate and Administration) of UBD yesterday.

She urged members of the public to refrain from spreading unverified information on the incident through social networks and smartphone messaging platforms and said the UBD Crisis Centre should be the right channel for latest updates. Members of the public can call the UBD hotlines 2463064, 2460519, 2460957 and 7178966.