MALAYSIA - A Camping trip in Kelantan for a group of Singapore students ended in death for one of them on Saturday.
Mr Lee Jun Jie, a 23-year-old National University of Singapore (NUS) student, is believed to have slipped and fallen into a ravine next to the Mount Stong waterfall, where he and his friends had camped for the night. Mount Stong, about a two-hour drive from Kota Baru, is known for its mountainous terrain and breathtaking views of one of Malaysia's highest waterfalls.
Rescuers said Mr Lee had been standing on a cliff to admire the sunset but could have lost his footing on slippery rocks at the campsite called Kem Baha, which is located atop the waterfall.
The group of 23 students, including eight women, had set up camp there on Saturday evening before continuing their climb towards the peak in the morning.
They had arrived by train for their three-day, two-night trip organised by a Malaysian tour agency. They were scheduled to leave today.
Rescuers said it took more than two hours before they found Mr Lee's body at about 9.50am yesterday 100m from the campsite.
"Heavy rain on Saturday evening and nightfall made it impossible for us to find him immediately after we received the distress calls," Mr Soleh Nasir, the fire and rescue department chief of Jeli, a nearby town, told The Straits Times.
Mr Lee's body was taken to Kuala Krai, another nearby town, for an autopsy. The student's parents arrived in Kuala Krai yesterday afternoon to claim the body, Mr Zahirin Mohamad, a police officer in charge of the case, told The Straits Times.
A spokesman for NUS said in a statement yesterday that the university is saddened by Mr Lee's death. Two university staff are accompanying the student's family in Malaysia and also on site to provide help and support to his family and friends, the statement said.
The 309m waterfall, which is in the Mount Stong state park, attracts many tourists, especially during the rainy season. But the trek up the waterfall is dangerous as the soil and rocks are constantly damp and slippery.
The forested area is open to the public daily until 6pm. Those who intend to camp overnight are required to inform the park authorities and local police. But the Singapore group apparently did not do so.
"We generally do not encourage campers to trek up the mountain during the rainy season, but we give permits as long as they register with us," Mr Zahirin said. "We are investigating whether there is any negligence by the local tour agency for not registering these campers."
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