14 passengers rescued after speedboat engine fails


LABUAN: Fourteen passengers taking a daily morning trip to Labuan from Menumbok yesterday had a frightening and anxious moment when a speedboat broke free in gale-force winds and drifted towards stormy seas.

All of them who are mostly working on the duty-free-island, were frantic to contact the Labuan Marine Department to report what they claimed was a nerve-racking and trembling experience.

One of the passengers, Rosli Amir, 45, said the incident was unexpected as it was a smooth journey when it departed from the Menumbok jetty about 8 am.

“Upon reaching the waters of Pulau Daat, the boat out of sudden experienced engine failure. The skipper had tried to fix the engine and continuously turned it on but to no avail, and the boat slowly drifted to the waters between Pulau Daat and Pulau Papan for about an hour.

“As we all started to panic, we immediately put on the life jackets for safety, it was an unpleasant experience,” he said when met at the Labuan jetty.

A Labuan Marine Department spokesman said they received a distress call from one of the passengers  about 8.30 am and immediately alerted the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) for a search and rescue operation (SAR).

MMEA Labuan enforcement chief Maritime Captain Che Adnan Mad Isa said all the passengers were found safely around 9 am, transferred to the agency’s patrol boat and sent to Labuan jetty.

A woman passenger sustained minor leg injuries when she accidentally stepped on the narrow part between the two boats during the transfer process and received immediate treatment.

“We continuously remind boat operators to keep doing inspection on their boat and the engine condition and take necessary safety precautions before setting out to sea to prevent untoward incidents like this, as passenger safety must be given priority,” said Adnan.