BATU PAHAT - Ali Abdul Raman Hairaddin never expected that a short 50m trip across Sungai Bekok to bring his two nephews to a goat farm for the first time would end in tragedy.
The incident took place at about 3pm on Saturday. The 28-year-old technician said the raft carrying 10 of them reached the middle of the river when it suddenly rose, causing all of them to be thrown overboard.
He said his family wanted to visit their goat farm just across the river after attending a wedding near Yong Peng as his two little nephews had never been there.
"We decided to use the raft as it was the quickest way to get across the river. That proved to be a mistake. There was a sudden gust of wind which caused us to lose our balance," he said when met by the river here yesterday.
Ali said he managed to save his wife Junaidah Yang, 23, and father Hairaddin Masran, 58.
"I couldn't find my two nephews, my mother and my youngest brother despite numerous attempts swimming back to the location," he said, adding that members of the public came to help him.
Unfortunately, the family lost four members: Lana Ismail, 55, her son Mohd Aiman Arif Hairaddin, 10, and grandsons Muhammad Iman Naqiudin Nas Izaha, two, and his 10-month-old brother Muhammad Ikhwan Nasaruddin.
The rest of the survivors are Nor Diana Alias Hairaddin, 31, Siti Farahida Hairaddin, 28, and two-year-old Muhammad Ali An-naqi Abdul Rahman.
MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, who is a close friend of Hairaddin, was saddened by the tragedy.
"I have known Hairaddin for the past 11 years. He is the local Umno branch leader and well respected among the community.
"He is a great help to Barisan (Nasional) and the people. Now, we come to him in his time of grief," Dr Wee said at the family's house at Kampung Melayu Kangkar Baru in Yong Peng.
Dr Wee, who is also Ayer Hitam MP, contributed RM2,000 (S$653) towards the funeral expenses and pledged to assist the family in any way.
Lana's body was recovered under the Yong Peng bridge by Fire and Rescue Department personnel at about 8.15am yesterday. The other bodies were found on Saturday.
Yong Peng Fire and Rescue Station chief Bakarya Mohd Salleh said the body was located just 150m from where the raft had overturned.
Grief-stricken cop: I will miss that joyful feeling
Lans Kpl Nas Izaha Nasir would always look forward to going home after a hard day's work to the hugs and kisses of his two young sons.
He will miss that joyful feeling now that the boys are gone.
The 27-year-old policeman with the Kajang district police said the last time he saw two-year-old Muhammad Iman Naqiudin and 10-month-old Muhammad Ikhwan Nasaruddin was last Wednesday.
His brother-in-law Ali Abdul Raman Hairaddin had gone to pick up his wife Siti Farahida Hairaddin to visit their parents in Kampung Melayu Kangkar Baru in Yong Peng during the Maulidur Rasul and Christmas holidays.
"I was working when I received a call from Ali saying that my family had been involved in an accident in Sungai Bekok and my heart sank," he said.
He said his worst fears were confirmed when he found out about the deaths of his two precious little ones as well as his mother-in-law and brother-in-law.
"I already miss my sons and the hugs and kisses they give me when I come home after work," he said when met at the Kangkar Baru Islamic cemetery here yesterday.
Lans Kpl Nas Izaha said his wife was traumatised over the incident that had unfolded before her eyes.