I watched my husband and three children die, says grief-stricken Orang Asli woman

Members of the Batek tribe wear face masks at their settlement in Kuala Koh June 14, 2019. — Bernama pic
Members of the Batek tribe wear face masks at their settlement in Kuala Koh June 14, 2019. — Bernama pic

GUA MUSANG, June 14 — “I was not not even done grieving my husband, and then my children were gone too,” a devastated Som Yai, who lost her husband and three of her children from the mysterious illness that has gripped Kuala Koh, here, said today.

Relating her sorrowful story, Som, in her 50s, said it was heartbreaking to watch her husband, Hamdan Keladi, turning into a bag of bones before dying in her arms.

“He started losing weight, was feverish, breathless and was vomiting I was so sad to see him that way,” she said, restraining her tears as she spoke to reporters in Felda Aring 10, here today.

Som was not even given time to mourn Hamdan’s passing, as barely a week later her will was tested again when two of her children fell ill with the same symptoms before dying on the same day.

Her daughter, Laila Hamdan in her 30s, died at 8am followed by her son, Romi, 29, some eight hours later.

Four days later, she lost another son, Din, 18.

“I am so heartbroken I think of the suffering they (husband and children) went through. We had tried everything (to save them).

“I felt so helpless and just could not do anything anymore, they were just lying there in pain, and could not even eat or drink anything,” Som, who now is left with four children, said.

Hamdan and his three children were among 14 Orang Asli from the Batek tribe who died from a mysterious illness that had hit their village since May.

Hamdan had also been the tribe chief for the community the past five years. 

Relating further, Som said another daughter, Asiah, in her 20s, had also been down with the same illness.

However, she was grateful that Asiah managed to be treated in hospital in time.

“She was warded for a few days and just only got discharged,” she said.

Meanwhile, another son, Asiah’s younger brother, Lan, in his 20s, said he had been foraying for jungle produce and honey and had no inkling of the misfortune that had struck his family.

“When I got back to the village, not only was my father dead, my brothers and sister were also gone while another sister was in the hospital

“We really hope to know soon what actually caused their deaths,” he said. — Bernama

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