Published on: Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Kahar Koko, 37, said to be a labourer at the Centre of Immigration and Quarantine Services (CIQS) jetty for 10 years, is believed to have drowned.
A witness said Kahar and seven other labourers tried to hide from the enforcement officers during the surprise operation, behind a passenger ship bound for Tarakan, held at the Tawau Fish Market and the CIQS at 11.30am.
They dived into the waters from the CIQS building, which is about 35-metres high.
"One of them was captured, while the other six managed to dive, but only five could be saved. Kahar was last seen facing difficulties to stay afloat, with his hands waving asking for help," he said.
The victim's friend, Jeffrie Abd Salam, 22, said he managed to grab hold of Kahar's legs but had to release him because he had to wave for a rope from a friend, who was on land.
However, Jeffrie dived again at the same spot but Kahar was nowhere to be found.
He is believed to have been swept away by strong currents.
Fire and Rescue Department head, Rudy Fredzek, said the department received a call at 11.44am and immediately rushed to the location with an engine, a boat and nine firemen.
"Search and rescue operation started at 11.57am, including using the service of a diver É in the same place Kahar was last seen," he said.
However, strong currents and the murky water made the effort difficult, he said.
At press time, the search and rescue effort was continuing.