KUCHING, Jan 1 — Nine people, believed to be from a family, were drowned in a tragic New Year’s incident after a four-wheel-drive vehicle they were in rolled off a ferry at Triso wharf in Beladin, Betong Divison, this afternoon.
A spokesman of the State Fire and Rescue Department said the bodies of the victims, including two children, have been brought by the police to the Beladin clinic for identification and confirmation of their death.
“We received an emergency call about 3.15pm on the incident,” the spokesman said in a statement.
A video taken by a witness was shared by the Bomba, showing the victims taken out by members of the public from the vehicle in an unconscious state.
The victims have been identified as Siti Aisha Abdullah, 36, Mohd Ahmad Bin Mohd Hamdan, four months old, Muhd Mustaqim Bin Mohd. Hamdan, five, Mohd Aiman Bin Mohd Hamdan, seven, female driver Ronany Ting, 33, Wallace Phang, seven, Alvin Phang, 12, Khairunnisa Binti Muhamad, 14, and Nor Shuhada Binti Mohamad, 16.
All the victims were identified at the Beladin Clinic at around 7pm by a medical officer.
A Bomba spokesman said the police are now investigating the cause of the incident.
He added that the vehicle was believed to travelling from Sibu to Kuching when the mishap occurred.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing, who is also the state Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development, said he, Assistant Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development Datuk Julaihi Narawi and Sarawak Rivers Board and state Public Works Department officers will be visiting Triso tomorrow morning to find out the causes of the tragic accident.
He said his ministry may reintroduce the standard operating procedure (SOP) of asking all the passengers to alight from the vehicles entering the ferry and only to board the vehicle after it has reached the land.
He said this SOP used to be enforced for passengers boarding the Baram ferry before.
On behalf of the state government, Masing extended his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.