Search for missing S'poreans could be called off

The search for two Singaporean men who disappeared in the Mersing fishing boat tragedy could be called off today if there is no progress, said Malaysian authorities.

Nine men who were on a three-day fishing trip were set adrift in the South China Sea last Saturday night when their vessel was smashed into pieces by a 50m-high tanker.

More than 60 people, four vessels, a helicopter and a beach craft have been deployed by the Malaysian authorities to search for the missing men, a news report said.

The two who are msising are Mr Keith Peck, 31, a stock trader and former assistant director at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and Mr Sam Tan Ah Juan, 55, a delivery driver.

The five Singaporeans and two Malaysians who were rescued managed to survive on a bottle of mineral water, three apples and a packet of chewing gum for the 20 hours they were adrift, reported The Straits Times (ST).

In order to stay intact as a group, they took off their shirts and shorts and used the material to tie their bodies together .

At 5pm on Sunday, the group spotted a fishing trawler 400m away.

Singaporean trader Keith Peck Zhi Yi, 31, and Malaysian Roslan Husin, 29, agreed to attempt to swim to the trawler to call for help as they were the only two in the group with life jackets on.

Mr Roslan turned back later due to cramps, but Mr Peck decided to continue on.

This was the last seen of Mr Peck, as a huge wave swept him away.

Although there is a chance the search might be called off, Director of Operations of the Southern Region for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Mohd Zubil said that there is a possibility of extending the search, as Mr Peck had a life jacket on.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also on the ground at Kuala Sedeli and working closely with the Malaysian authorities, the ministry said in a statement released yesterday.

Singapore has offered Malaysia its assistance in the search and rescue operations and has contacted the Indonesian authorities for assistance.