Wednesday, October 17, 2007

MORE PICS & Video – Reactions Tioman Ferry Tragedy; Suspended - Ferry Operator & 2 Marine Officers; Opposition Fishing in Troubled Tioman Waters

MORE PICS & Video – Reactions Tioman Ferry Tragedy; Suspended - Ferry Operator & 2 Marine Officers; Opposition Fishing in Troubled Tioman Waters

: Body found was identified by family members as that of Wong Soong Leng, 37

Body Of Missing Passenger In Tioman Island Ferry Tragedy Found

MERSING, Oct 17 (Bernama) -- The body of one of the three missing passengers in the ferry fire tragedy near Pulau Tioman on Saturday was found today. The body was found floating by the Police Air Wing at two nautical miles east of Pulau Tokong Bahara, said maritime search and rescue operations coordinator Kapt Tan Kok Wee. He said the body has been taken to Tanjung Gemok in Rompin, Pahang.

The victim's family members have been asked to identify the body, he told reporters. A 120-member search and rescue team has been scouring a 5km radius area where the ill-fated Seagull Express 2 ferry caught fire and sank while cruising to Tioman Island from Mersing. The unaccounted for passengers are Choong Yoong Kim, 43, and Wong Soong Leng, 37, both from Petaling Jaya, and Wong Hann Wen, 29, a factory supervisor from Klang. Four holidaymakers were killed in the tragedy.

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Malaysiakini has a story about the survivors planning to sue

Ferry survivors likely to sue Bede Hong | Oct 16, 07 6:39pm

Malaysiakini-tv still on Race, religion still divide nation: PM

= == = = familes are still seraching on their own with the help of SAR

ABOVE: Family members of Choong Yoong Kim, Wong Song Leng and Wong Han Wen, who went missing after the ferry they were on caught fire and sank near Pulau Tioman on Saturday, calling out the names of their loved ones as they join in the search operation near Pulau Tokong Bahara on Tuesday. BELOW: The Blue Water 4 Ferry was used by them. The latest news is that one of the body has been found

ABOVE: The sister offering a silent prayer - which have electronic waves to reach the missing brother and BELOW: another relative involved

Two officers in charge of the marine dept in Mersing have been suspended with immediate effect pending investigation into the Ferry fire incident last Saturday. ACA will conduct its investigations on elements of graft. Two other probes would be carried out:-
1. To ascertain negligence and
2. To identify the cause of the tragedy

Meanwhile the opposition parties are cashing in on the victims misery and are helping them to take steps to sue for compensation.

= = == and the Master Mariner comments - left in a previous posting

The loss of life on the Mersing to Tioman ferry "Seagull Express" was a result of criminal negligence, if the reports from Bernama and in NST on-line, and other sources are factually correct.

It is likely that the ferry was:
Unlicensed (licensed expired 10 months ago)
Overloaded with passengers
Undermanned with crew
Had inadequate lifesaving and fire fighting equipment on board
Master & crew were inadequately certified and poorly trained

The following parties / authorities need to be independently investigated and if guilty of any crime or dereliction of duty, they must be punished to the full extent of the law.
The Marine Department
The Maritime Enforcement Agency (Coastguard)
The Marine Police
The ferry owner and the ferry operator
The master of the ferry
The crew of the ferry
The Pahang state tourism authority (they promote this ferry on their web site.
The Johor state authorities
All other relevant licensing, regulatory and enforcement authorities

In the past maritime incidents have been poorly investigated and shortcomings have been simple swept under the carpet. In many cases the guilty were not punished. Innocent lives will continue to be lost at sea if the typical Malaysian lackadaisical 'tiada apa' attitude continues unchecked. Malaysia urgently needs an independent Marine Accideny Investigation Board

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ABOVE & BELOW: More injured victims with burns

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Ferry company's services suspended

by B Suresh Ram; theSUN

ABOVE: a harassed Minister having sleepless nights since the fire & sinking of Ferry and speaking very slowly announcing the measures to be taken

PUTRAJAYA (Oct 16, 2007): The Transport Ministry has with immediate effect suspended all services operated by Seagull Ferry and Accommodation Sdn Bhd, after a boat sank on Saturday, and is studying possible legal action against it. The ministry has also suspended two Marine Department inspectors who were on duty that day when the Seagull Express II caught fire and went down off the Mersing coast. Ministry secretary-general Datuk Zakaria Bahari is also investigating the pair for possible negligence. Its minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy (ABOVE) said yesterday the department has also been given two weeks to carry out a full investigation into the incident, which has brought forth many questions on the safety of ferry services. He also ordered a full inspection of all ferries operating in the country to ensure they comply with licensing conditions and safety aspects.

The Seagull ferry had 106 holiday makers on board when it caught fire. Four passengers drowned, and three others are missing. Five were injured. Speaking at his ministry after meeting with Marine Department officials yesterday, Chan said initial investigation showed that the Seagull Express II ferry operator did not renew its Malaysian Shipping Ordinance licence which expired on March 16 last year. The licence was issued on March 22, 2005. Investigations also showed the required passenger security certification for ferries carrying a passenger load of 12 or more passengers was also not issued to the company. The last time such a certificate was issued for the purpose was on April 14, 2004, which in turn expired on March 18, 2005. “

There was no certification issued by the Marine Department as the vessel concerned did not have sufficient safety equipment,” he said. Chan said two-week investigation led by department director-general Datuk Capt Othman Ahmad will find out how the ferry could operate without the necessary licence and passenger safety certification and whether there was a lack of enforcement. “There is a lot of self regulation here (in the ferry industry),” he said, adding that if need be, they could beef up enforcement. Chan said checks showed that the company, which operates four ferries, had licensing for only two, while licences for the others had expired. He denied that there was a ferry shortage on Saturday, the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Chan said the ministry will later refer the matter to the Attorney-General's Chambers so that action could be taken against those responsible.

ABOVE: Minister with his Ministry's Top Brass

Chan also said the search and rescue operations for the missing trio would go on until there is no hope left.In Mersing, search for the three missing passengers focused around a 5km radius where the ferry went down.

Choong Yoong Kim, 43, Wong Soong Leng, 37, both from Petaling Jaya, and Wong Hann Wen, 29, a factory supervisor from Klang, are still unaccounted.

A 120-member SAR team from the Royal Malaysian Navy, Maritime Enforcement Agency, Fire and Rescue Department, Marine Police and Civil Defence Department have intensified their search, which entered the fourth day yesterday.

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October 16, 2007 20:14 PM

Two Marine Dept Officers Suspended Over Ferry Tragedy - Chan

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 16 (Bernama) -- Two officers in charge of the Marine Department in Mersing have been suspended with immediate effect, pending investigations into the ferry fire tragedy last Saturday. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said Tuesday the investigations would determine whether they had neglected their duties in the events leading to the tragedy off Pulau Tioman which took four lives. "If they are found to have been irresponsible or careless, we will recommend appropriate action against the officers," he told a news conference at his ministry here. Chan said a committee headed by the ministry's secretary-general, Datuk Zakaria Bahari, was in charge of the investigations.

A report on the investigations was expected to be ready by the end of the month, he said, adding that the Anti-Corruption Agency might be roped in to assist in the probe. Chan also said that the government would take stern action against the ferry operator as an offence had been committed. He said the Marine Department's initial findings revealed that the licence of the ferry, "Seagull Express", expired on March 16, 2006, and it did not have any valid licence as required under the Merchant Shipping Ordinance. He added that the department had not renewed the Passenger Certificate, a requirement for any boat which carries more than 12 passengers, since March 18, 2005, after discovering that the ferry did not meet the safety requirement. Asked if lack of enforcement was the main cause of the tragedy, Chan said: "I think so. That is why we have to suspend them (the two marine officers) immediately".

Chan said he had also ordered the Marine Department to conduct a nationwide exercise to ensure that all vessels were licensed and that boats carrying more than 12 passengers had a passenger licence. He said it was conducted immediatetly with the cooperation of marine police and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA). Meanwhile, MMEA Search, Rescue and Disaster director Admiral Sharani Hamid said the search and rescue operation would continue. Last Saturday, the "Seagull Express" ferrying 106 people, including the captain and two crew members, caught fire and sank while on its way from Mersing to Pulau Tioman. Four people died and four were injured. The dead were Hoo Lee Lan, 67, of Kuala Lumpur, Hong See Tiew, 53, and Teh Siew Lian, 52, of Klang, and Tee Moi @ Haw Lee Maoi, 68, of Batu Pahat. Search operations are underway for three missing passengers identified as Choong Yoong Kim, 43, and Wong Soong Leng, 37, both from Petaling Jaya and Wong Hann Wen, 29. Saddened by the tragedy, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday instructed the Transport Ministry to inspect all passenger boats and ferries to ensure that they are safe. He also wanted action to be taken against the ferry operator.

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October 16, 2007 16:18 PM

SAR Team Focusing Around 5km Radius For Missing Three

MERSING, Oct 16 (Bernama) -- Search and rescue operations for the three missing passengers focused around a 5km radius where the "Seagull Express 2" ferry caught fire and sank while cruising to Tioman Island from Mersing on Saturday. Choong Yoong Kim, 43, Wong Soong Leng, 37, both from Petaling Jaya, and Wong Hann Wen, 29, a factory supervisor from Klang, are still unaccounted for since the tragedy in which four people were killed. The 120-member SAR team from the Royal Malaysian Navy, Maritime Enforcement Agency, Fire and Rescue Department, Marine Police and Civil Defence Department have intensified scouring of the area for the three. Civil Defence Department operatioms chief coordinator Lt Azmi Nafiah said his department had deployed 10 men from Johor Baharu and Mersing to join the integrated operations which entered the fourth day today. He said the Fire and Rescue Department and other agencies also sent their personnel this morning, making the team one of the biggest deployed for a search and rescue mission. He said the 10-member team from the fire and rescue department brought along three Labrador dogs -- Joe, Cody and Hardy -- to help in the search. The ill-fated ferry, with 106 holidaymakers on board, caught fire at about noon on Saturday.

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October 16, 2007 23:04 PM

No Signs Missing Victims Trapped In Sunken Ferry

ABOVE & BELOW: SAR Search still on

MERSING, Oct 16 (Bernama) -- Three dives made by the search and rescue (SAR) team to the wreck of the Seagull Express 2 ferry which sank after catching fire seven nautical miles off Pulau Tioman on Saturday, did not find any signs that three missing victims of the tragedy were trapped in the vessel. "If the victims are not around the incident area, they must have been swept away by currents and may have reached beaches in Rompin and Nenasi," the SAR team leader Chief Insp Abd Rahman Abd Jalil told reporters after today's operation ended at 7pm. Abd Rahman, who is also Rompin Traffic Police and Public Order chief, also did not rule out the possibility that the victims could have been swept past Pulau Sri Buat near Pulau Tioman and into international waters. He urged their family members to remain patient as the SAR operation would be continued until they were found.


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October 16, 2007 20:39 PM

Two Ferry Victims Buried In Klang

KLANG, Oct 16 (Bernama) -- A couple who were drowned in the ferry fire tragedy off Pulau Tioman on Saturday were buried at the Fairy Park Chinese Cemetery in Meru here at noon today. About 100 people, including 24 survivors of the ill-fated ferry, attended the funeral service of Hong See Tiew, 53, and his wife, Teh Siew Lian, 52. The couple from Bukit Tinggi were swept by the currents when they jumped into the sea from the ferry which caught fire on the way to Pulau Tioman from Mersing. Their daughter, Hong Li Chin, 23, who survived the ordeal, was overcome with emotion as she could not save her mother despite a plea from her father. "

After my mother and I jumped into the water, other passengers kept jumping and some landed on us and that was when I lost my grip on my mother's hand and she started to go underwater," she told reporters at the burial ground. Also present was International Trade and Industry Ministry's Parliamentary Secretary Datin Paduka Dr Tan Yee Kew, who is also Klang Member of Parliament. Tan said boat and ferry operators should ensure that the safety equipment in their vessels were in serviceable condition. "They must do their part (to maintain the safety measures) to encourage more tourist arrivals and not compromise on passengers' safety," she said.

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October 16, 2007 16:20 PM

Marine Dept: No Compromise On Safety Of Passengers
KANGAR, Oct 16 (Bernama) -- The Marine Department Malaysia will not compromise with ferry operators who fail to follow regulations regarding the safety of passengers. Its deputy port officer in Kuala Perlis, Parmaswaran Manikam, said from safety aspect, the passengers were always important and ferry operators who failed to follow procedures would not be allowed to sail.

"Every day thousands of ferry passengers use Kuala Perlis terminal and they must be assured of a safe journey. ”We will not compromise on safety procedures," he told Bernama when met at the terminal here Tuesday. He said a ferry was detained for about an hour today because a check showed that there was no engine operator on board. "The ferry was allowed to sail after the owner has found a substitute engine operator and paid a fine," he said. Parmaswaran said overall, he was satisfied with the ferries plying between Kuala Perlis and Langkawi which followed safety procedures like providing life jackets, life boats and not overloading. He said passengers also needed to register before sailing so that the department would be able to monitor the situation if there was an accident. Earlier, Parmaswaran led a team of officers to check on a number of ferries leaving for Langkawi. Yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi ordered the Transport Ministry to inspect all ferries used to transport passengers and goods to prevent the incident like the Seagull Express fire from recurring.

= == = =Watch the Video Clip (1 min 50s, including video clips within clip) - speeded up 30% (otherwise a www) on - Minster Chan Kong Choy announcements

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