Sibu Island kelong collapse: 'Workers felt kelong sway'

Sibu Island kelong collapse: 'Workers felt kelong sway'

SINGAPORE - A kelong located off the coast of Malaysia which is popular with Singaporeans has collapsed.

No one was hurt when the Ah You Kelong, off Sibu Island, went down at about 7.30pm last Sunday due to a thunderstorm, Mersing police said.

There were 15 workers and an Australian visitor on the kelong, but nobody was injured, said a police official who declined to be named.

He added: "The workers felt the kelong swaying, as though it was going to collapse.

"They quickly alerted the visitor, lowered the boat and escaped. They were unhurt and safe."

When contacted, the kelong's owner, Mr Wong Peck You, 60, confirmed the incident.

Speaking in Mandarin, he said his kelong had been "torn down".

He added that it had been closed for a few days, but declined to explain why, citing ongoing investigations.

Nonetheless, the kelong was "not operating" during the collapse, he said.

None of the workers on it were Singaporeans.

His kelong can typically take up to 180 people, he added.

The owner of a neighbouring kelong, Mr Liau Kim Yong, said the Ah You Kelong had looked unstable in the last few days.

The 38-year-old said it was probably giving way due to wear and tear, and there was also a generator on it.

Singaporean Desmond Tan, 56, who was on a fishing trip with friends, was on the neighbouring Ah Fatt Kelong on Sunday evening.

Nothing amiss

The businessman said he did not notice anything amiss, as the other kelong was some distance away.

But the following morning, he saw police speedboats driving past.

Debris, such as unopened cans of beer and soft drink, was also floating pass his kelong, he said.

"Initially, I wondered who had thrown so much rubbish into the sea," he said.

"I then took out a pair of binoculars, looked towards the other kelongs and saw one of them missing.

"I knew that could not be good."

The kelongs are popular destinations for Singaporeans, especially on weekends.

Mr Tan goes there four times a year to fish, mainly for swordfish and barracuda.

The kelongs are about 12km off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and in the South China Sea, according to previous reports.

To reach them, Singaporeans typically drive for about two hours to the Tanjung Leman jetty in Johor.

From there, they take a boat ride to the kelongs which can last 20 to 30 minutes.

The collapsed kelong was linked to a fishing tragedy three years ago, in which five Singaporeans drowned.

A vessel was heading out of the kelong when it capsized.

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