Missing diver: Accusations against MMEA of having ‘boats with no fuel’, ‘unanswered calls’ inaccurate

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Sarawak assistant director operations Captain Yousry Yaali showing the location where the search is currently underway for missing diver Chong Su Sian.

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KUCHING, April 21: Allegations that Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Sarawak could not conduct search and rescue operations because their boat or assets ran out of fuel were not entirely accurate, said its assistant director operations Captain Yousry Yaali.

Refuting reports which went viral in social media made by a family member of diver Chong Su Sian, who went missing last Saturday (April 17) some 23 nautical miles (41km) from Pulau Satang, Yousry explained that operations could not be carried out effectively on that day because of incomplete information.

“The complainant who lodged the report at 8pm could not furnish proper location of the incident where Su Sian, 31, was last seen. Furthermore, due to limited vision as it was dark in the night, this will endanger our rescue attempt if the victim is floating while our boats conducting the search,” Yousry told at a press conference today.

On another allegation made by the victim’s brother Chong Sze Hua claiming that he made several desperate attempts to contact MMEA Sarawak for help but no one answered his calls, Yousry said, “Upon checking, he did not contact the correct 24-hours emergency number which are MERS 999 or 082-432544 (Maritime Sarawak operations centre).

On that fateful day, Su Sian together with five friends took a diving trip near Pulau Satang Besar.

The authorities were informed that she decided to go for a second dive on her own and failed to resurface after one and half hour later. She was reported missing at 4.30pm.

Captain Yousry (right) addresses a press conference in Telaga Air, Kuching.

“Our Maritime Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) received the emergency notification at 8pm from MERS 999 reported by Putrayaja and similar report from Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department operations centre after Sze Hua contacted the right numbers.

“The moment our side receive the emergency notification, we immediately activate search and rescue (SAR) operation and directed our asset Pengawal 6 to the location. At that time, Pengawal 6 was on duty patrolling in the waters since April 15.

“However, no proper location was given to us for the SAR. Despite contacting Sze Hua, he could not pin point nor verify the exact location of where her sister was last seen until a police report was lodged the next day,” Yousry asserted.

On April 18, at 8.30am, MMEA received a report through the police with more details including the coordinates and location made by James Chung Ung Kiong.

With that extra information, Yousry said it has helped them in organising the SAR operations.

The operations led by MMEA went on full swing from Sunday, with the assistance from police, marine police, police air unit, Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) and Civil Defence Force (APM) utilising various sea assets, aircraft and drones.

Today is the fourth day of search, covering some 80.42 nautical miles around the waters of Pulau Satang Besar.

Apart from MMEA and Bomba boats, aerial search with police air unit aircraft, drones from APM and divers from marine police around the waters of Pulau Satang were also made.

As at 11am, they have yet to find any clues of Su Sian’s whereabouts.

Meanwhile, MMEA and police continues to collect information on the incident for further investigation.— DayakDaily