Woman diver feared drowned off Pulau Satang

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Captain Yousry Yaali pointing to the area the diver believed missing while ASP Wan Sazaly Jaafar (left) and MMEA Sarawak SAR Division Lt. Com. Nurul Elmi Ali (right) look on. Photo: Ramidi Subari

KUCHING: A diving activity about 23 nautical miles north of Pulau Satang last Saturday, turned tragic when a 31-year-old woman is feared drowned.

The incident happened around 4pm when the victim, identified as Chong Su Sian, an experienced diver, went on a diving trip with eight other divers.

Chong reportedly decided to make a last dive alone when procedures clearly state that when a person dives, he/she must do it with another person.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Sarawak deputy director of Operations Captain Yousry Yaali revealed that the agency was alerted of the incident by the State Fire and Rescue Department operations centre around 8pm on Saturday.

The agency then launched a search and rescue (SAR) control post at Telaga Air Waterfront Jetty the following day (Apr 18).

Yousry said during the incident, there were six individuals on the boat while three divers (including the victim) were in the water.

“According to the complainant (victim’s brother), the victim did not surface for about one hour and 20 minutes, which prompted others to search for her but to no avail.

“The complainant also informed that the two divers in the water had heard a whistle underwater but they were not able to detect where the whistle came from,” he said in a press conference at the control post today (Apr 18).

Meanwhile, Sarawak Marine Police Region 5 intelligence operations chief ASP Wan Sazaly Jaafar said the water where the diving took place was 21 to 23 metres deep, which is a normal level for diving.

As at 1pm Sunday, rescuers had not been able to find any new leads to the victim’s whereabout. The search, involving 23 personnel from various agencies, was conducted at two sectors which covers an area of 437 square nautical miles.

Yousry also reminded the maritime community to prioritise safety when going to sea by wearing safety jacket and carry a personal located beacon (PLB) device to facilitate MMEA to identify the location in case of an emergency.

They are also advised to postpone any activities at sea if the weather does not permit and to contact MMEA Sarawak operations centre in case of an emergency or any suspicious activity at 082-432544 or MERS 999.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) boat heads off for the SAR operations area. Photo: Ramidi Subari