Sunday, 17 January 2010

Chung Ling Tragedy, May Them R.I.P.

Four students missing in boat mishap (Update 2)

GEORGETOWN: The body of one of the five Chung Ling High School students, who went missing after their boat capsized in strong waves off Macallum Street Ghaut here, has been found.

Rescue workers found the body at 2.45pm on Sunday, believed to be that of Jason Ch'ng.

According to George Town acting OCPD Supt Gan Kong Meng, Ch’ng’s body was found under a boat not far from the shore.

Earlier, the body of their teacher Chin Aik Siang, 27, who was the school’s dragon boat team advisor, was found at about 11am.

A total of 17 students, aged between 16 and 17 years, and their teacher-cum-coach were training for a dragon boat race when the incident occurred at about 9am on Sunday just as the team was doing the final lap before returning to the shore.

The boat capsized when the students were doing a sharp manoeuvre, which hit a tug boat.

It is believed that strong currents had pulled the students into the water.

Twelve other students however managed to swim to the shore.

Some of them swam about 1km while some were rescued by two passing fishing boats.

A search and rescue operation has been mounted by the police, the Fire and Rescue Department and the Civil Defence Department.

The sunken boat has been recovered and towed to the shore.

Meanwhile, parents of the missing students are keeping a vigil near the scene.

Many of them were seen weeping openly and are being consoled by their relatives.

Those missing have been identified as Brandon Yeoh, Jason Ch’ng, Koh Yiz Hiang, Cheah Zi Jun, all 17, and Yong Xiang, 16.

It is learnt that some of the 17 students were not wearing life jackets.

It is learnt that the teacher Chin had only been recently appointed to the post.

He had been teaching science and mathematics for the past two years.

His body was sent to the Penang Hospital for post-mortem.

Meanwhile, Kuah Zi Xun, 17, who swam to the shore, said the strong current pulled down the students.

“Some of the who were wearing life jackets were also pulled down. I hope all my friends are safe,” he said.

Currently, more than 100 personnel from St John Ambulance, Rela, Penang Hospital, volunteer firefighters and divers from the Fire and Rescue Services department are involved in the search operations.

Penang police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Wira Ayub Yaakob told a press conference that the incident occurred about 150m from the shore.

“We are still investigating how many of them were wearing life jackets,” he said.

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