GUA MUSANG, Malaysia - Almost three weeks after having to endure news that their lost children had been found dead, it was heart-shattering again for their parents as they finally laid the four to rest.
With the pain still fresh, the scene was emotional as the skeletal remains of Juvina David, seven, Haikal Yaakob, eight, Ika Ayel, nine, and Linda Rosli, eight, were laid to rest following customary Temiar tribe funeral rites yesterday.
A total of 20 4WD vehicles accompanied the four orang asli children, who died in the Balah forest reserve last month, on their final journey from here to their village in Kampung Penad along the logging track - a trip which took three hours.
The remains of the children were placed in separate, simple wooden coffins covered with white cloth and a smattering of flowers.
It was not a smooth ride for the accompanying family members.
Due to a downpour on Saturday, some of the vehicles got stuck in thick mud.
The drivers also had to struggle to manoeuvre the steep, hilly path leading to the village.
The convoy managed to reach the destination by 3.30pm.
Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) deputy secretary-general Nisra Nisran Ramlan and its Kelantan/Terengganu director Nik Man Nik Ya were part of the entourage.
After the simple funeral rites, the coffins were finally placed into a prepared single grave by 5pm.
The four children were among seven pupils of SK Tohoi who fled to the Balah forest reserve on Aug 23 fearing punishment from teachers because they had swum in a nearby river without permission.
Other reports said they decided to hike home after another group was punished for swimming in the river.
Some 46 days after the group had gone missing, Norieen Yaakob, 10, and Mirsudiar Aluj, 11, were found barely alive on Sept 10.
The search party first found the remains of Linda on Sept 8 about 500m from their school at Sungai Perias.
Two days later, Norieen and Mirsudiar were found 3.3km from there.
The search is still on for the sole unaccounted member, Sasa Sobrie, seven.
The body found on Sept 8 had first been identified as Sasa but this was later corrected after DNA tests.
Sasa's father Sobrie Latip, 25, had been preparing for her funeral but now has to wait until her remains are found.
The bodies of the four children, who were related to each other (Haikal and Norieen are siblings), were earlier reclaimed by their parents and relatives from Hospital Gua Musang at 10am.
Haikal's mother Midah Angah, 38, was distraught as the remains of her youngest child was placed in the coffin.
Midah, a single mother of seven, left Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital in Kota Baru - where Norieen is warded - to attend Haikal's funeral.
"I got to Gua Musang at midnight on Saturday as I wanted to see Haikal's remains for one final time.
"I am relieved that he is finally at rest," she said in between sobs.
Ika's father Ayel Ajid, 48, said he had waited for the other families before claiming the body of his daughter "as I wanted the four to remain together".
"I miss her presence at home but I have to accept that Ika is gone forever," he said at the hospital.
Juvina's father David Muasam, 32, said the families had agreed that all four children should be buried in one grave.
"It's all over now. Our duty now is to look after our remaining children well," he added.