Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Missing anglers and crew found

BINTULU: A boat skipper and two crew members together with 14 anglers were found safe and sound on their fishing vessel about 35 nautical miles from the Bintulu coastline around 7am yesterday.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Bintulu District enforcement chief Commander Sazali Mohamad said an integrated search-and-rescue operation was launched on Monday after receiving the report.

“However, yesterday (Monday) we had no clues on their whereabouts and the search-and-rescue operations were continued today (Tuesday) together with various agencies including Bintulu Port, Murphy, Petronas and others.

“Around 7am today (Tuesday), the Murphy search team informed us the missing fishing vessel was found stranded about 35 nautical miles from the Bintulu coastline due to engine failure,” he said when contacted for confirmation yesterday.

All the 17 anglers were brought home by two MMEA boats together with 20 personnel around 1pm yesterday.

The fishing vessel was towed back to assist in the investigation.

“Thank God, the search-and-rescue teams managed to find them otherwise the fishing vessel could have been swept farther out to sea,” said Sazali.

He advised anglers who planned to go out on fishing trips to ensure all safety measures were taken.

“The most important thing is to ensure the communication gadget is functioning. In this case, they failed make contact to seek for help due to engine failure.

“In case of emergencies, especially at sea, communication tools are extremely important besides the condition of the vessel,” he said, adding that the skipper or boat owner should be responsible and expect the unexpected, be prepared for any possibility and have an alternative plan.

He said they would conduct further investigation to determine the cause of the incident.

“We urge all precautions to be taken into consideration in the future before embarking on a fishing trip out to sea,” said Sazali.

Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing was among those present to greet the 17 anglers. When met at the passenger wharf terminal, all of them looked exhausted.

The group from Kuching, Miri and Bintulu was reported missing by their family members on Monday after they failed to return home from a fishing trip on June 1.