The agencies involved in the search and rescue (SAR) operation for missing victims of the catamaran boat tragedy will be meeting tomorrow to decide on the next move.
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Kota Kinabalu director Maritime First Admiral Adam Aziz said this was because the mission would be entering its 10th day tomorrow.
“Following the meeting, MMEA will convey the outcome to MMEA’s headquarters (in Putrajaya) on how long the mission will be continued.
“However, we’re still hoping for miracles to happen because based on nature, with tomorrow already reaching the 10th day of the SAR mission, bodies might not be intact as the one found yesterday,” he told a press conference in Kota Kinabalu today.
Yesterday, the body of a woman, believed be of one of the six victims still missing in the catamaran tragedy, was found entangled in a trawler net by fishermen in Pulau Mengalum waters at 9.25am.
Adam said the SAR operation covering some 2,000 square nautical miles was now focusing on the area where the body of the woman was found.
Fifteen assets, 11 ships and boats and four aircraft, have been enlisted for the operation which also involves the waters of Sarawak and Brunei.
Adam said that 50 trawlers from fishermen’s associations in Kota Kinabalu, Kudat and Labuan were also assisting in the search.
In the incident at 10am last Saturday, the catamaran which was carrying 28 tourists from China and three crew was believed to have capsized amidst strong winds and huge waves while heading to Pulau Mengalum, 56km northwest of Kota Kinabalu.
To date, 25 victims have been found including three who perished.
Meanwhile, the discovery of an orange life jacket has provided a new clue for the SAR teams.
Adam said the SAR team from MMEA’s ship ‘Bangi’ found the jacket at 4.48pm yesterday.
“The life jacket was found about 30 nautical miles southwest of where the catamaran capsized and sank and 25 nautical miles southwest of Pulau Mengalum.
“It was orange in colour with the word ‘Marina’ written on it with a marker pen,” he said.
Adam said the life jacket will be handed over to the police for further investigation, and shown to the tour boat’s owner for identification purposes.
Commenting on the woman’s body found entangled in the fishing nets yesterday, Adam said the body had yet to be identified and that the post-mortem and identification process was still underway.
According to him, the family members of victims still missing who were at the Queen Elizabeth I Hospital in Kota Kinabalu were unable to identify the body due to its decomposed state.
“So a DNA test will be performed. Results of the identification will be given after the completion of the post-mortem report,” he said. –Bernama