GENTING BUS TRAGEDY: Families console each other

KUALA LUMPUR - Parents wailed openly over the deaths of their children. Over to one side, in a quiet corner, a couple huddled together, the wife trying her best to console her husband, his head buried in his hands, tears dropping in a steady stream.

The mood at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital mortuary yesterday was sombre, the air laden with despair and hopelessness as the families of the 37, who died in the country's worst bus crash, gathered to claim the remains of their loved ones.

At the hospital's forensics department, Lee Siew Ying stared blankly. Her face was that of a mother's whose heart had been shattered into a million pieces by the death of her son, Sia Chin Shin, 22, whom she described as "a loving son".

Her husband, Yu Zheng Yang, 55, was trying to make sense of their son's death, wailing and sobbing uncontrollably. When he had no more tears left to shed, he buried his head in his hands.

Their son, the youngest of five, had gone to Genting Highlands to pick up his girlfriend, Kwan Chin Yii, also 22. The two Universiti Putra Malaysia students were both killed in the crash.

"My sister went in to identify my son's body. I just could not do it," said Lee.

As droves of people, mostly volunteers and curious onlookers made their way to the area, family members waited for their turn to claim the bodies.

The sight of a son coming to terms with his father's death and mustering everything in him to make funeral arrangements after a frantic all-night search at hospitals, brought others to tears.

It was at 4am yesterday that 24-year-old technician Mohamad Hazizi Mohammed Rasip finally found his father's lifeless and battered body at KLH mortuary.

He had spent half the day running around the Sungai Buloh, Selayang and Kuala Lumpur hospitals looking for his dad.

His father, Mohamed Rasip Jantan, 61, was an assistant security manager at First World Hotel and had boarded the ill-fated bus at 1.45pm for their home in Gombak.

"But he never reached home. I called his office at 6pm, but his colleagues told me that he had already left in the afternoon.

"I called his handphone, but he did not pick up. After hearing about the bus crash, I checked all the hospitals for him, until my worst fears were confirmed."

His mother, Noraini Muid, 53, who was with him throughout the search, was heartbroken.

Rasip's body was buried at the Muslim cemetery in Masjid Tanah, Malacca.

Rescuers yesterday called off operations at 11am after an all-night search of the deep ravine of Genting Hinglands. Investigators, who then took over, concluded theirs at 2pm.

In the final sweep of the area, rescuers found two legs, which were later sent to HKL.

Rescuers also spent time at the site retrieving documents and personal belongings.

A question being asked by investigators was why the bus driver did not use the emergency "sand trap" located just 50m from where the bus plunged to slow down his vehicle if the brakes had failed.

Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research's crash team may stage a simulation of the tragedy.

At HKL, the post-mortems on the 37 were concluded at 1pm. At press time, only 27 bodies had been released to families.

Bentong district police chief Superintendent Mohd Mansor Mohd Nor said it was too early to say what caused the accident.