Agency puts off SAR ops

Zin Azman

KUCHING: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has decided to postpone the search and rescue (SAR) operation for the five anglers reported missing since Oct 3.

After seven days of searching, the rescue agencies failed to find any new clues regarding the victims’ whereabouts, except for the orange buoy found on Oct 3 at about 34 nautical miles from Santubong estuary.

Director First Admiral (Maritime) Zin Azman Md Yunus said despite having the air search conducted by the Police Air Unit and the Fire Department Air Unit, the team was unable to conclude if the boat had capsized. Neither did the team come across any safety equipment floating in the sea.

The search radius today was 3,144.04 square nautical miles, covering the waters of Besi Buruk, Tanjung Sipang, Karang Berumput, Tukun Bass, Pulau Lakei, around Pulau Satang and Pulau Sampadi, and Batu Mandi, Lundu.

“As of 5pm, all agencies failed to find any new lead and thus, the search and rescue (SAR) forward base at the Sarawak Marine Fisheries Department jetty will be closed.

“This means the police will take over and information will be channelled straight to them first before it is shared among all agencies involved.

“However, all agencies involved will continue to search in their respective fields to get any new leads,” he told a press conference at the Sarawak Marine Fisheries Department jetty in Santubong.

Zin said the maritime community along with the victims’ families could channel any new information to the police.

On wind conditions, he quoted weather reports which warned of waves of up to 2.5 to 3.5m high, which could easily capsize a small fishing boat.

“If there  are those who want to go out to sea, always check the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) website for the latest weather forecast and prioritise personal safety,” he said.

The five missing anglers were identified as Khamizan Saidi, 40 (boat skipper); Yap Tze Kang, 41; Ng Ching Hui, 36; Leo Dy Lee Jiann Tarn, 35; and Christopher Teo, 32.

They were reported missing after they did not return from their fishing trip near Karang Berumput, Tukun Bass in Santubong waters.