TAWAU, Jan 2 — The excitement of nine individuals including six siblings in an outing to Batu Payung beach yesterday turned into a tragedy when their boat capsized in the waters of Batu Payung while on their way back after being hit by waves with two victims found drowned and one still missing.

The drowned victims were identified as Saiful Muhaimin, 15, who was found in the sea and his younger brother Jaidi, 5, was found on the beach and their sister Rahena, 20, is still missing while six others were rescued.

One of the siblings, Zetty, 17, said the incident occurred when water entered the bow of the boat after it was battered by big waves, causing the boat to capsize.

“All of us fell into the sea, I and five other siblings could not swim and we were just struggling to keep our heads above the water. I managed to grab my brother, Jefry, 6 and we held on to a fish drum.   

“My younger brother, Adam, 12 also clung to an oil drum before a passing boat came to save us, they rescued we three siblings, my husband, a cousin and a neighbour but my sister and two other brothers could not be found,” she told reporters here today.

According to Zetty, her sister and four siblings went to Batu Payung beach for the first time in a boat at Batu 4 and did not expect the joy trip to become such a tragedy.

In this regard, the victims’ mother Mary Nasir, 48, said six of her children left Kampung Rawa-Rawa at about 11am and then to Batu 4 to take a boat to play at Batu Payung beach. 

“At about 3 pm, my daughter (Zetty) phoned to say their boat had capsized, and three of my children could not be found after the boat capsized yesterday and two of them were just recovered this morning,” said Mary who was inconsolable.     

The eldest brother, Junior, 25 said he managed to stop his siblings from returning by boat as he saw the weather was no good.

“At that time, I did not follow them as I was managing the attire for my wedding scheduled on Jan 9 but at 2pm, my sister phoned to say they wanted to return but I forbade her, after that I phone them again but there was no answer. I did not expect their boat to capsize,” said the eldest of 10 siblings.

Meanwhile, Tawau Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Maritime Zone deputy director, commander Amiludin Yenggah said yesterday the agency received information from police on the incident of three missing siblings who were feared drowned in Batu Payung waters.

“Following that, MMEA activated a search and rescue operation to look for the three victims with two assets before halting it to resume this morning.

“The search for the three victims was conducted together with villagers as well as police and Civil Defence Force (APM) personnel,” he said and added that the incident was believed to be due to excess loading at the bow of the boat.

Amiludin advised members of the public to be cautious when going to the sea as the weather is uncertain and should always put on a life jacket for safety when taking a boat. — Bernama