6 Rescue Divers Drown Trying to Find Teen in Malaysia

Six rescue divers drowned while searching for a 17-year-old boy in a disused mining pond in Malaysia on Oct. 3. Following the deaths, the Selangor government is ordering the mining pond to close.

The teen, who has not yet been found, was about to start fishing near the banks of the mining pond in Taman Putra Perdana, of Puchong, Selangor, when he slipped and fell into the pond around 5:50 p.m. Two friends who were with him quickly sought help from nearby residents.

The Cyberjaya Fire and Rescue Department received an emergency call at 5:19 p.m. local time and their rescue team of eight officers and personnel arrived at the scene about half an hour later, Free Malaysia Today reported.

The six divers were in the water for about 5 minutes when they got caught in a whirlpool around 9 p.m. local time as they were searching for the teen.

They had been following all safety procedures and were all wearing complete diving equipment prior to entering the water, Sepang district police chief ACP Abdul Aziz Ali said, according to the BBC. They were also all tied to a single rope.

“Suddenly, a strong current came gushing into the area causing them to be dragged further down and got tangled by the rope that connected them,” Ali told New Straits Times.

He told Free Malaysia Today that the divers were spinning and all their safety equipment came off in the process.

A Facebook post showed the gushing waters at the scene.

The divers struggled to get out for half an hour until they became submerged. All six were unconscious when they were eventually retrieved from the pond.

They were pronounced dead at the scene when attempts to resuscitate them failed.

‘A Very Sad Day For Us’

Fire and Rescue Department director-general Mohammad Hamdan Wahid said there had never been so many deaths of personnel in a single rescue operation.

“We carried out CPR but could not save them. This is a very sad day for us,” he told state news agency Bernama.

Wahid said initial investigations showed heavy rain earlier that day was what caused the strong water current and that a flood wall in the area had been unable to contain the floodwaters.

“We will investigate the matter further to ensure this tragedy can be avoided in future.” he said, New Straits Times reported.

The divers have been identified as Mohd Fatah Hashim, 34; Izatul Akma Wan Ibrahim, 32; Mazlan Omarbaki, 25, and Yahya Ali, 24, Adnan Othman, 33, and Muhammad Hifdzul Malik Shaari, 25. The first four listed were from the Port Klang Fire station, and the latter two were from the Shah Alam Fire station.

The divers’ bodies were sent to Serdang Hospital for post-mortem examination, and subsequently taken to the Shah Alam Fire and Rescue station for a final tribute. About 300 people attended, Channel News Asia reported.

The divers’ bodies will be taken back to their hometowns to be buried.

Mining Pond to Be Restricted

The Selangor government ordered Sepang Municipal Council to seal off the mining pond once the search for the missing teen ends. The search is still underway.

Chief Minister Amirudin Shari spoke after attending the funeral prayers for the rescue divers on Oct. 4: “This is not the first incident that has taken place at the location, according to reports I have received,” he said, Malay Mail reported.

“Therefore I am instructing the local government to step up security controls in the area and if necessary restrict the public from the perimeter.

“If the public wish to fish, they can do so at a safer place away from the docks,” he added, emphasising that the small dock located at the mining pond was meant for maintenance works and not recreation.

Amirudin said the state will contribute RM 20,000 ($4,800) to each of the victims’ families.

“The State Economic Action Council has decided to donate the amount from the Selangor Warriors’ Fund in the hopes that this will lighten the burden faced by the victims’ families,” he said.

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