Capsized Mersing Boat "seaworthy"

29 Dec

MERSING: The boat that capsized in Mersing on Boxing Day last Sunday, taking the lives of four Singaporeans, was deemed seaworthy.

A spokesman from the Mersing Port Department, Jeffrey Shah, said the boat was last inspected on November 22.

The department conducts inspections on the boats every six months.

Mr Jeffrey said the boat that capsized had its annual licence to operate renewed in May this year.

Its licence is due to expire on June 24, 2011.

Jeffrey Shah, a spokesperson for the Mersing Port Department, said: “Before we produce any licences, we have to do an inspection for the boat, whether the boat is seaworthy or not. During our inspection, we do inspect all the live-saving appliances, the condition of the boat.”

Meanwhile, some 130 personnel are continuing the search for the sole Singaporean still missing.

Beach patrols and a helicopter are continuing to comb the area.

The Mersing authorities said they will do whatever it takes to find 44-year-old Ng Kian Tek.

However, authorities in Mersing indicate that there will come a time when the resources deployed need to be scaled down.

Mohd Nor Rashid, Head of Search and Rescue Operations with the Mersing Police, said: “In terms of manpower, we have added 40 more additional more manpower from the civil defence, rela (volunteers) and the police itself. I have deployed these personnel at the beaches, two personnel covering 200m coverage.”

Meanwhile the local meteorological office has issued a category 3 alert. This condition is dangerous to all coastal and shipping activities.

This means rough seas and strong winds are expected to hit the area, which could hamper the operation.

Tourists at the Tanjong Leman Ferry terminal were being turned away due to the weather.

Tourist Peter Vansbotn said: “It's the right decision. We came ready to go and we heard from the tourist who just got back that it was quite rough. So they made a decision and we're back to Singapore. We're disappointed, we're looking forward to a nice little holiday but safety comes first.”

Passenger boats have been suspended from travelling out of the Tanjong Leman Ferry Terminal, till January 4.

The bodies of the other four Singaporeans involved in the tragedy, have been brought back to Singapore.

Twenty-nine passengers were on the boat travelling from a kelong near Sibu island, towards the Tanjong Leman ferry terminal, when the mishap happened Sunday.

-CNA/wk/ac

Channel News Asia

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