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KUCHING, Oct 4: Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) is only a supporting agency in the search and rescue (SAR) operation for 10 anglers who were reported missing after their boat capsised some 21 nautical miles off Pulau Satang Besar in Telaga Air on Oct 2.
Its director Khirudin Drahman explained that the lead agency for the search is the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Sarawak in accordance with the provisions of Section 6(1)(b) of the MMEA Act 2004 (Act 633) to implement maritime search and rescue duties in the Malaysian Maritime Zone and on the high seas.
“With the boat’s last known location at some 21 nautical miles near Pulau Satang, it falls under the Malaysian Maritime Zone. Therefore, there is no conflict in terms of duties and responsibility on the MMEA’s part.
“With this regard, Bomba’s scope of duties is searching along the coastal areas and rivers, in line with Section 5(1)(c) of the Fire Services Act 1988 (Act 341),” he said in a statement today.
He was responding to Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah yesterday (Oct 3) who criticised Bomba for postponing the search for the victims as early as 6.30pm on Oct 2.
At the same time, Khirudin explained that the State Bomba’s marine logistics capability is limited and only appropriate for coastal areas and rivers.
He also disclosed that Bomba set up a control centre at Telaga Air as part of its efforts to provide assistance.
The State Bomba also advised the general public not to confuse the jurisdiction and responsibility as well as standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the agencies involved in the operation.
Yesterday, nine of the 10 missing anglers were found safe by locals and were brought to the Telaga Air jetty.
The remaining missing person who has yet to be found is assistant skipper Awang Omar Awang Hamsawi, 59. – DayakDaily