State govt promises detailed investigation to prevent repeat of Mulu park tragedy

Lee (centre) with Law (on Lee's left), Oswald (second from left) and Hein (left) during the press conference. Lee is holding up a photo printout of the incident site inside Deer Cave.

By Jaythaleela K

MIRI, July 18: A meticulous investigation will be conducted into the recent tragic incident at Gunung Mulu National Park which resulted in two deaths, assured Assistant Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin.

Speaking to reporters after receiving the incident report from Gunung Mulu National Park manager Hein Gerstner this morning, Lee said the state government is taking the incident seriously.

The deadly incident happened at a section of the Deer Cave known as the Garden of Eden.

“What happened (referring to the incident) was unforseen circumstances and an isolated case, but we are taking it very seriously and will make sure that similar accidents or incidents will not occur in the future in the national park,” he stressed.

He said, additional measures would be taken to prevent such accidents or incidents from happening in future.

The report, amongst others, described the situation leading up to the fatal incident.

Lee opined that Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) and other relevant agencies should form a committee to conduct a study review of standard operating procedures (SOPs) in Gunung Mulu National Park to enhance safety measures in place there.

Lee said local park guide, the late Roviezal Robin, 20, had followed the park’s SOP and managed to bring a group of nine tourists including Dutchman Peter Hans Hoverkamp, 66, to cross back into Deer Cave when water levels in the cave began to abruptly rise after a sudden burst of rain that day.

Strong currents subsequently swept both Hoverkemp and Roviezal away.

Hoverkamp’s body was found on July 13 while Roviezal, a Berawan with three years’ experience as a park guide, was found on July 15.

Hoverkamp’s remains were flown back to Holland on Wednesday.

“SFC will call in experts especially cave experts to do investigation …., because we want to know what happened, ” he said.

The incident was the first ever claimed the life of the park’s tour guide.

Previously, there were two (fatalities) incidences involving local and international tourists.

Following to the incident, Lee also appealed to the Sarawak medical authorities to upgrade their facilities in Gunung Mulu National Park.

“Currently, there is just one doctor in the national park,” he said, after attending a meeting held with SFC, Gunung Mulu National Park management and Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) Miri at the Islamic Complex here.

Gunung Mulu National Park currently has 25 trained park guides.

Meanwhile, Miri Bomba chief Supt Law Poh Kiong said that remote operated vehicles (ROV) are very much needed for rescue efforts inside caves and for underwater tasks.

Also present was SFC general manager Oswald Braken Tisen. — DayakDaily