BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - Search and rescue operations are still ongoing for a 17-year-old water taxi driver, who was feared drowned after he was involved in a boat collision near the Royal Wharf late on Wednesday evening.
As of press time, Aminuddin Kassim has been missing in the Brunei River for over 24 hours. Rough underwater conditions hampered dive and patrol efforts.
His father, joined by other family members, was seen at the search and rescue operations base as they anxiously waited for news of the teenager. The scene of the incident has since been cordoned off to the public.
"My son took me to the market by boat shortly before the accident," he told The Brunei Times yesterday.
The father was having dinner when he was informed about the collision involving two water taxis. Alarmed by the news, he immediately made his way to the Royal Wharf and discovered his son's boat unmanned.
"It appeared the left side of the boat had been struck, but my son was nowhere to be seen," he said, fearing the impact from the collision might have knocked his son unconscious.
More than 20 personnel from the Fire and Rescue Department together with the Royal Brunei Police Force have been deployed to find Aminuddin with search and rescue operations beginning as early as 5am.
"We have secured the scene, set up fluorescent floaters on the waters so no water taxis can cross the zone and divers can dive in safely," said operations leader Muhammad Harris.
However, divers struggled to find any signs of the missing water taxi driver due to low visibility and strong currents underwater. The operations leader said their efforts were further impeded by debris on the river bed.
In addition to the scores of firefighters and divers, marine police were also tasked to patrol the waters at night.
On Wednesday, the Fire and Rescue Department received a distress call regarding the accident at 10.33pm. It was believed that two boats, one of which was manned by Aminuddin, collided nearby the Royal Wharf.
Aminuddin was reportedly thrown into the water, while the other water taxi driver Musa Hj Sarbini survived with minor injuries.
In a statement issued following the incident, the Fire and Rescue Department reminded water taxi drivers and other boat operators to exercise caution when travelling. They were also advised to use lighting at night and life jackets at all times.