Commercial copters take to the skies to deliver aid to flood victims

PETALING JAYA - Commercial helicopters have also been taking to the skies to deliver supplies and rescue flood victims in the stricken states.

An orang asli woman and her newborn baby from Kampung Kuala Tahan, Pahang, were airlifted to hospital by a Helistar Resources Sdn Bhd aircraft on Christmas Eve.

Company managing director and co-founder Captain Bagawan Singh, who piloted the aircraft, was nonchalant about the rescue.

He had dropped supplies at Kampung Kuala Tahan, when doctors told him both mother and baby needed to be sent to the hospital in Jerantut.

"The baby was just three-hours-old, the mother was in a lot of pain and I had an empty helicopter," he said when interviewed.

Capt Bagawan said the devastation was worse than any photographs in the press or footage on television.

However, he said, the tragedy also showed how giving Malaysians are.

"We have been delivering food and water generously donated from individuals, non-government organisations and companies," he said.

A group of volunteers called Save East Coast raised over RM100,000 (S$37,787) for supplies and to hire helicopters to send aid to isolated villagers in Kelantan.

Its co-ordinator Tengku Nor Azah Tengku Mahmood said her team of 25 volunteers were initially sending aid by freight before getting helicopters from Aerial Power Lines Sdn Bhd to send supplies directly.

"We didn't want to deal with red tape, so we took matter into our own hands."

She said the helicopters made five trips on Sunday and up to four trips were planned yesterday barring bad weather.