Thu, 30 May 2024



Concern after another Sabah tourist tragedy
Published on: Sunday, March 17, 2024
By: Jonathan Nicholas
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Concern after another Sabah tourist tragedy
Location of the tragic incident. Inset: A screenshot of the resuscitation.
Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Parks will study  whether to increase the number of lifeguards on Sabah’s islands after yet another Chinese national died – this time by drowning – at Pulau Sapi on Friday.

Parks Director Dr Maklarin Lakim said there were about 400 visitors and tourists on the island at the time the body of Zhou Chunguang, 51, was found by other tourists at the beach. 

He was the third foreign tourist whose holiday in Sabah ended tragically in less than a week. A Singaporean male aged 60 and a Vietnamese woman aged 40 were killed when the tour bus they were travelling in collided with a lorry at Km 20, Jalan Semporna-Tawau, last Monday. Another Singaporean girl required 12 stiches on her face. The group had just boarded the tour bus after arriving by air.

Similar incidents have also befallen tourists while travelling to their destinations in the recent past, both on land and at sea, prompting calls for tour firms and individuals involved to be named, even blacklisted where lives have been lost.   

City police Chief ACP Mohd Zaidi Abdullah said the victim and his wife in the latest incident took a boat ride to Pulau Sapi at about 10am.

“The victim then went for a dip at about 12.45pm while the victim’s wife stayed at the beach. Thirty minutes later, he was found drowned by two other tourists before they asked a Pulau Sapi lifeguard for help,” he said.

Although there were four hundred visitors, it was not known how many were actually swimming at the time.

Mohd Zaidi said CPR was administered on the victim at the beach for five minutes but to no avail. He was rushed on a tourist boat to Jesselton Point where waiting Queen Elizabeth Hospital 1 paramedics pronounced him dead at 1.55pm.

“The body was taken to the hospital and the case was classified as a sudden death,” he said.

Last October, a 25-year-old male Chinese tourist met similar fate when snorkelling in Pulau Bum Bum, Semporna. A few months prior, a 38-year-old tourist drowned when the boat he was on capsized off Timba-Timba Island, also in Semporna.

The recurring tragedies led Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister (Motac) Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing to insist that the Sabah Government raise its tourism safety standards.

He said the issue needed to be addressed urgently because it had tarnished Sabah’s world-renowned image as a tourism destination.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew on Saturday advised all tourists to wear life jackets when they participate in water-based activities like swimming, snorkelling and diving.

“Wearing a life jacket at sea is a necessity to avoid any misadventure. Taking safety measures is for your own good. Refrain from taking the risk even if you are adept at swimming,” she said.

She said Sabah’s islands are popular holiday destinations for locals and tourists and the unfortunate incident at Beach A on Sapi Island is “heart-wrenching and regrettable”.

“We cannot afford to have holidays ending in tragedies as this could hurt Sabah’s tourism industry,” she said.

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