The first batch of victims in the catamaran which capsized while on its way to Pulau Mengalum on Saturday arrived Kota Kinabalu early today.
Twenty of the victims, along with three who perished in the tragedy, arrived on a fishing boat escorted by a Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) vessel and a police marine boat.
However, it could not be ascertained if a crew member of the catamaran was among the 20 or the dead.
The two-tier fishing vessel that bore the Jalur Gemilang docked at the Kota Kinabalu Police Marine jetty at about 1.45am.
Also seen on the jetty was Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim, Sabah Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Pang Yuk Ming, MMEA Director-General Admiral Maritime Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar, China’s Consul-General in Sabah Chen Peijie and Sabah Tourism Board Chairman Joniston Bangkuai.
Police and a medical team rushed to receive the victims, who were then given medical attention on the jetty before they were sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Within the next 10 minutes, most of the victims, who were able to walk, were seen going into two vans, while the rest were brought into ambulances with the first ambulance leaving the jetty to the hospital at 1.59am.
The activity surrounding the jetty brought an audience from the public who were intrigued to see how the authorities managed boat-capsized victims.
Due to the security at the jetty’s entrance, the public, as well as local and international media, were only able to watch from a neighbouring shopping mall and a development project about 15 to 20 metres away.
Shahidan, when met at the police marine’s jetty entrance, said victims would be taken to hospital and post mortem would be conducted on the bodies.
“We will make sure they receive the best attention and give them time to recuperate from their ordeal before the police record their testimonies on the incident,” he said.
The boat ferrying three crew members and 28 tourists from China was believed to have capsized due to strong winds and big waves at around 10am on Saturday, an hour after it left the Tanjung Aru jetty here for Pulau Mengalum, a tourist attraction about 56km northwest of Kota Kinabalu.
At about 3.30pm yesterday, police received information that two of the boat crew had been rescued at Semarang, near Labuan, and were brought to the Kota Kinabalu police headquarters where their statements had been recorded.
At about 6pm, police received information that 20 of the victims in capsized catamaran had been rescued by a fishing vessel, also at Semarang, and that three more were found dead.
Six others are still missing and a search and rescue (SAR) mission was ongoing to locate them. –Bernama