Bumboat fire: Boatman who died was troubled by recent failures, says his dad

He was a troubled man.

A recent break-up seemed to weigh on him, and a failed business haunted him.

Boatman Ong Hock Long, 33, had gone missing on Tuesday evening (July 12) while operating bumboat No. 36, which was engulfed in flames in the waters off the Esplanade.

His body was found late last night.

Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported that family members said Mr Ong had broken up with his girlfriend about two months ago, and it still affected him.


His 63-year-old father was also quoted as saying that his son had a failed duck rice stall five years ago, and required help from the family to repay the debt.

Ong, who worked for Singapore River Cruise, was seen jumping into the waters of Marina Bay on Tuesday evening, as No. 36 was consumed in a fiery inferno.

He was the only one aboard the battery-operated vessel at the time.

Witnesses had previously told The New Paper there was initially just smoke from the boat, which they dismissed as mist from machines used to cool people off.

But the boat soon erupted into flames. It was later engulfed by the fire as it drifted in front of the Esplanade river bank.

Thick smoke could be seen clouding the Singapore skyline from parts of the Central Business District, even as the inferno was contained on the bumboat.

Pictures of the incident later showed Mr Ong, in a yellow top, jumping overboard.

But he did not resurface.

Divers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF) Disaster and Rescue Team (Dart) were later sent out to look for Mr Ong.

But the underwater search was called off, and a surface search operation resumed.

Mr Ong's family was seen in the area while the search was carried out on Tuesday evening.

When TNP contacted Singapore River Cruise yesterday, the phone operator declined comment, only saying that the company's management were having meetings, and they were working closely with the police.

Well-wishes flooded social media after the news broke, with many hoping for Mr Ong's safe return.

Those hopes were dashed last night.

This article was first published on July 14, 2016.
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