15/03/2024 08:47 PM

SIBU, March 15 (Bernama) -- Residents living along Hulu Batang Rajang who rely on boats for transportation have been reminded to buckle up on safety measures during the current rainy spell to avoid tragedy.

Kapit Fire and Rescue Station chief Timoty Barat said the top priority is always wearing a life jacket and avoiding excessive loads.

According to him, the river’s high water level and strong current require boat skippers to stay alert even though they are used to navigating the boats in swirling river conditions.

“Don’t underestimate the strong current of a river even if you are a good swimmer and used to it. Always wear a life jacket in a boat and avoid going through areas with whirlpools,” he told Bernama.

The stark reminder comes following the tragedy of a boat capsizing in Batang Baleh near SK Lepong Baleh on the evening of March 7, which claimed the lives of two policemen and two civilians while the public rescued another.

The two policemen were reportedly on their way from Kapit to Nanga Tulie to deliver 35 kilogrammes of explosives for use in blasting quarried stones for a road construction project in Baleh.

The search and rescue operation only managed to find three victims two days after the incident, with the body of Sergeant Jonathan Lambet found near the Kapit express boat terminal.

The bodies of two civilians, Jack Balan, 45, and Amerson John Nain, 47, were found more than 160 km from the scene.

Another civilian, Moses Ngui, 47, survived the episode and was saved by the public.

The body of the last victim, Constable Iskandar Ibrahim, 28, was found along Sungai Batang Rajang in the Seputin area by residents this morning two kilometres away from the scene.