Monday, May 10

MMEA to work with police in probing diver’s death


File photo showing Yousry pointing to the area of Chong’s last dive on a map during the press conference. — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING (Apr 25): The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) together with the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) would be conducting a detailed investigation into the case of Karen Chong, a 31-year-old woman who died during a diving trip near Satang Island on April 17.

Her body was found by local fishermen about 16.4 nautical miles north of Tanjung Po – or 52km from her last known location – on April 22.

“It is believed that she went diving alone without a ‘dive buddy’. This are among the aspects that we have to investigate,” said MMEA Sarawak deputy director of operations Capt Yousry Yaali in a statement yesterday.

He added that the investigations into what had actually taken place that day would not sideline human errors.

The case, he said, would be investigated under Section 280 of the Penal Code for navigating any vessel in a manner that is rash or negligent so as to endanger human life; Section 474 (1) of the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952 for operating a boat without a valid licence; and Boat Rules, 1953.

Meanwhile, MMEA strongly reminded anyone wishing to go on a diving expedition to always prioritise safety by complying with the guidelines set by respective certification agencies such as the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) and Scuba School International (SSI).

“The boats to be used for bringing divers out to sea must be licensed, and all divers must not act in a rash manner to the extent that it could endanger their own safety.

“MMEA also hopes that all divers would choose a reputable diving centre, and would not dive alone, without the presence of at least an experienced and certified dive guide,” stressed Yusry.

He pointed out that diving groups should also make use of the ‘Surface Market Buoy’ – a vital tool that would facilitate detection of the location of divers from the surface.

This bouy, he added, could also be used as an emergency floatation device.

“Divers are also advised to equip themselves with a ‘Personal Locator Beacon’, which could expedite a rescue mission,” he said, adding that the MMEA had expressed its deepest condolences to the family of Karen Chong.

To seek help during any emergency at sea, the MMEA can be contacted via MERS 999, or by calling its 24-hour hotline 082-432 544.