Sabah quake: Boy daren't close his eyes, fearing flashbacks

Sabah quake: Boy daren't close his eyes, fearing flashbacks
Tanjong Katong Primary School pupil Emyr Uzayr (above) recovering at the Gleneagles Kota Kinabalu hospital after his operation. "Seeing him is the best thing in my life," says his father, Mr Sadri Farick.

Tanjong Katong Primary School pupil Emyr Uzayr now finds it hard to close his eyes - but not because he injured them during a Mount Kinabalu school trip.

The 12-year-old is so traumatised by being caught and injured in a 6.0-magnitude earthquake which struck Sabah on Friday that he has flashbacks of the incident.

The boy told his father, Mr Sadri Farick: "On closing my eyes, I keep seeing what I saw. It's so shocking and I cannot believe it."

Mr Sadri, 37, a former police officer who now owns a home decor company, told The Sunday Times: "He saw things happening that I don't think I would like to describe, and now he doesn't want to close his eyes or even have a rest."

He added: "It was very sad to listen to my son asking me where his missing friends are."

Emyr, who suffered a fractured skull, among other injuries, was moved out of intensive care into a normal ward at about 6pm yesterday, after undergoing an operation at the Gleneagles Kota Kinabalu hospital.

Speaking at the hospital, Mr Sadri recounted how he anxiously waited for news about his son.

His wife was informed at around 9am on Friday, through a phone call from a teacher, that Emyr had a minor leg injury. Parents of pupils on the trip were later asked to meet at the school at 4.30pm.

He went, but was none the wiser about his son's well-being. Worried, he trawled through Malaysian online news portals and television channels to find out as much as he could about the incident.

To his surprise, he saw footage of his son inside an ambulance on Malaysian television channel TV1, with a bandage wrapped around the boy's head.

He had given Emyr his bright orange and reflective T-shirt to wear on the trip.

Mr Sadri said he had told his son: "If you want to be safe, use my T-shirt because people can see you very clearly, and at night it can reflect light."

Emyr, who underwent a three- to four-hour operation yesterday morning, was just regaining consciousness when Mr Sadri and his 35-year-old wife arrived at the hospital at around 1.30pm to visit him.

Consular officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs accompanied the couple, who also have an eight-year-old daughter.

They were flown over by a Republic of Singapore Air Force C-130 plane from Paya Lebar Air Base, together with other parents and government officials.

They were happy and relieved to see their son, Mr Sadri said.

"My wife is very close to my son, so of course she was very happy to see him alive," he said. "Seeing him is the best thing in my life."

Emyr was also happy and relieved, Mr Sadri added.

Arrangements are being made to fly him back to Singapore in an International SOS air ambulance, and for his parents to return separately, likely by today.

Mr Sadri said counsellors from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health were assisting his son psychologically.

"Children may look okay on the outside, but this kind of tragic incident, memories will remain imprinted on his mind for quite some time," he said. "Hopefully this experience will make him stronger and value life."

This article was first published on June 7, 2015.
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