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Boat with six Italian tourists catches fire
Published on: Thursday, November 02, 2017

Semporna: Six Italian tourists, including four women, out on a diving trip at Mabul Island escaped unscathed when their tourist boat caught fire, Tuesday. District Police Chief Supt Peter Umbuas said the 9.35am incident prompted marine police on Ops Gelora patrol to rush to assist after they detected smoke from the boat which belonged to the Sipadan Water Village.

The fire was put out by the team together with resort boats nearby at about 10am.

All the tourists as well as the 33-year-old local skipper were rescued.

Peter said preliminary investigation showed that the fire was believed to have been sparked by a wiring connection which caused the petrol gas to explode.

Total loss has yet to be established.

This was the third incident involving tourists – two of them fatal - to have taken place at Mabul Island within a week.

On October 29, a Chinese tourist drowned while diving at a tourism centre in Pulau Mabul, barely three hours after the first at another tourism centre on the island at about 11.50am.

Meanwhile, in LABUAN, a Search and Rescue operation was launched by the District Maritime Agency (MMEA) here for a man who was feared to have drowned around the coastal waters of Tanjung Aru Menumbok, Wednesday.

According to Regional Operations Deputy Director, Maritime Commander Nor Bakari Abu Bakar, their operation room received a report at 9.45pm, Tuesday, from the Menumbok Police Station, about a victim lost at sea after being carried away by strong currents.

He said they deployed a ship and two patrol boats for the operation which was joined by the Kuala Penyu Fire and Rescue Department, Labuan Marine Police, District Civil Defence Force and assisted by local fishermen.

The victim, Ag Tahir Daud, 51, was working at an offshore fishing platform (kelong) located about one nautical mile off the coast where he was believed to be swimming towards a drifting boat as the rope's knot which was securing the boat to the platform snapped. The strong currents then swept him away.

"Due to many recent incidents and bad weather conditions, we seek the cooperation of the public to be more prepared before going out to sea to avoid any casualties," he said.

He urged the public to obtain information on current weather conditions before going out to sea.

Any complaints and emergency at the sea can be reported at 24-hour MERS 999 and Labuan Maritime Operations Centre at 087-427999.

Meanwhile, Beaufort Police Chief DSP Azmir Abd Razak said initial findings led a team to the scene where they met the man's two friends at a food stall near the beach.

Initial information gathered from them was that they started work at 8am prior to the incident which took place at 5.30pm.

One of them said they went to the offshore fishing platform by boat and tied their boat to the platform, before climbing onto the platform to start work.

As they were working, the boat somehow came loose from its knot and drifted some 10 metres away and when the victim realised what was happening, he jumped into the sea to save it.

It was learnt that half-way through, he started shouting for help. Unfortunately his friends did not dare go after him. They called for out help from others who were on a nearby fishing platform.

The man subsequently vanished from their view. His two friends were assisted by fishermen who came to take them to shore.

A total of eight personnel from the Kuala Penyu Fire and Rescue Department led by Huziman Malikin arrived at the scene after being alerted. - Lagatah Toyos, Iffah Dilaney and Sherell Jeffrey



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