Instructor, trainees survive training aircraft crash

MALAYSIA - A Malaysian flying academy instructor and her two trainees escaped death when their Piper PA-28 aircraft crashed into the Strait of Malacca on Tuesday.

They were on a night flying training exercise when the light aircraft was believed to have experienced some technical problems before crashing into one of the busiest straits in the world, the New Straits Times reported.

The trio were identified as flying instructor Captain Sharon Yee, 27, and second-year trainees Soh Shien Shoong, 22, and Faeroz Kamil, 23.

Capt Yee was piloting the aircraft while Mr Faeroz was the co-pilot. Mr Soh was seated at the back row in the aircraft.

Capt Yee and Mr Soh were believed to have crawled out of the aircraft and swam to the nearby Masjid Selat to seek help while Mr Faeroz, who was unable to swim, managed to stay afloat at sea before he was rescued by fire and rescue department staff at 9.30pm.

Distress call

According to State Deputy Police Chief Senior Assistant Commissioner Shah Ghazi Shahadad, the distress call was received at about 8.41pm and the fire and rescue department arrived at about 8.55pm.

Said SAC Shah: "The rescue boat was sent to sea and Faeroz was picked up some 400m from the shores of Bandar Hilir."

He added that Capt Yee had sustained a deep gash above her right eyebrow while Mr Soh suffered some minor cuts on the back of his body.

Mr Faeroz did not suffer any injuries but was exhausted after having kept himself afloat in the Strait of Malacca for over an hour after the plane crashed. It is learnt that the aircraft was last seen on radar at about 8.15pm.

Kubu Fire and Rescue Department head Yazid Mohamad Tahir said that a boat with 15 divers was deployed to rescue Mr Faeroz.

Said Mr Yazid: "We had no trouble finding the victim at sea as he was using a torchlight to indicate his location while waiting for rescue workers to arrive."

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