Sabah boat tragedy: A story too horrific for victims to tell

Sabah boat tragedy: A story too horrific for victims to tell
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

KOTA KINABALU - Many of the rescued Chinese tourists of the catamaran tragedy are still badly traumatised and have trouble relating to authorities their 30-hour ordeal at sea.

Survivors of the boat tragedy are rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu for treatment.Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

According to an official from the China consulate, the victims could not give a clear picture of what really happened following the Jan 28 incident.

The official said that apart from having to bear with the pain from their injuries and sunburns, the victims were also haunted by the memories of the horrific incident.

However, he said the consulate, hospital and the Sabah government were doing all they can to help the victims make a quick recovery.

"Counsellors and psychiatrists have also been appointed to help these victims," he said.

Finding comfort: Family members of victims of the catamaran that sank on its way to Pulau Mengalum console each other.Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

Meanwhile, it is learnt that most of the survivors' families have arrived in Kota Kinabalu and are keeping them company and giving them moral support.

From what little the survivors have been able to relate, hopes of finding the six victims still missing are very slim.

A survivor has told the Chinese media that her mother who was listed as missing died at sea and her body was left to float before she herself was rescued on Sunday.

The missing six have also been exposed to extreme heat by day and cold at night for more than 144 hours and rescuers believe their chances of survival are slim.

As the search area is expanded from 3,000 to 3,900 nautical miles now encompassing waters off Sarawak, rescuers also acknowledge that they are running out of time.

Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

"Their life jackets cannot last up to six days. And they have experienced dehydration, extreme heat and cold. It is not a good situation," said Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency Kota Kinabalu director Laksamana Pertama Adam Aziz.

He said if any of the six had died, their bodies would sink initially but would eventually surface again.

He said the MMEA was holding a solat hajat to seek divine intervention in its efforts to find the missing six.

MMEA has also asked all fishermen along Sabah's east coast to be on the lookout for the missing.

Adam said the search involved 350 personnel of various agencies using 22 vessels and aircraft but inclement weather conditions in the evenings are hampering efforts, he said.

On Jan 28, the catamaran with 31 people on board comprising 28 Chinese nationals and three crew members sank at about 10am after departing from the Tanjung Aru jetty an hour earlier.

Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

The search effort began immediately after the company operating the vessel reported the mishap to the authorities 12 hours after the incident.

Twenty of the Chinese nationals survived their 30-hour ordeal at sea, while three died. Six are still missing.

The missing six are crewman Absoy Kasim, 26, and China's Sheng Jiang Jiang, 50 (male), Luo Hong Yuan, 51 (male), Dong Mei (female), a woman in her 30s and a child believed to be aged 10.

Read also: Boat carrying 28 Chinese tourists reported missing off Malaysia
Sabah boat tragedy: Trip to paradise turns into nightmare at sea

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