Fishermen recover body of woman
Published on: Sunday, February 05, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: The body of a woman was retrieved from waters some 13 nautical miles northwest off Pulau Mengalum on Saturday. The decomposed body which was clad in a red shirt and black trousers arrived at the marine police jetty at about 2.15pm and was sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital 1 for identification purposes.

Local fishermen came across the body which was caught in their fishing net some 20 nautical miles southwest off Pulau Tiga at about 9.25am. Marine police and the maritime's KM Adil were deployed to bring the remains back to shore.

The discovery came as the search and rescue operation entered its eighth day on Saturday covering 1,900 nautical miles with wind conditions blowing east and wave conditions at 2.5 knots to the south.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) officials do not rule out the possibility of the body being one of the six people who went missing following last Saturday's catamaran capsize near the island.

"Family members will be called in to identify the body, and if needed deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sampling will be taken to establish the identity of the deceased," said Kota Kinabalu Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Chief First Admiral Adam Aziz.

"We hope the identity can be established by Sunday," he told a media conference at the Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre, here, Saturday.

Also present at the marine jetty were China's Consul-General to Sabah Chen Peijie and City Police Chief ACP M. Chandra.

The six people, five of whom are tourists, were among 28 China tourists and three crew who left the Tanjung Aru jetty here for Pulau Mengalum about two hours' ride northwest of Kota Kinabalu at about 9am on Jan 28.

Out of the missing six, two are women, identified as Dong Mei, 52, and Wong Jien Yi, 30.

Their failure to arrive prompted a search and rescue operation with 20 of the passengers and two crew members rescued by fishermen from waters near Labuan on Jan 29. Three others were found dead.

Outside the hospital's mortuary families and two survivors donning hospital attire were seen escorted by police and those from the China Consulate-General to identify the remains. Adam Aziz said the search would resume with concentration on the area, which will be called Sector H, where the body was found.

The latest development came a day after MMEA officials announced the sighting of a white object floating some 17 nautical miles north off Labuan.

Efforts are still being done to locate the object at press time. Prior to that, two orange life jackets were also detected and retrieved by KM Banggi off Pulau Mengalum and Labuan on Feb 1 and Jan 31.

The first jacket was found some 70 nautical miles northwest off Pulau Mengalum at about 1.05pm on Jan 31, while the second was found 55 nautical miles northwest off the same island at about 12.55pm on Feb 1.

Meanwhile, the guide who was rescued with the ill-fated catamaran skipper will be one of the key witnesses to the court case involving the boat owner, Leong Vin Jee, 44, who was arrested a day later.

The skipper Sharezza Salian, 25, who was brought to court on Saturday pleaded guilty to ferrying an overloaded catamaran and was jailed six months (see main story).

State Police Commissioner Datuk Ramli Din said Aman Abdul, 38, who was arrested together with the skipper following their rescue on Jan 29, will be released from police remand once the order expires Sunday.

"The Deputy Public Prosecutor has decided not to charge this man but to make him a witness in the case," he added.

The crewman is a Filipino national holding the IMM13 immigration travel document issued to refugees.


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