State police chief warns Gunung Tabai intruders of immediate action

Sarawak Police Commissioner Datuk Aidi Ismail (right) speaking to reporters after officiating the 214th-anniversary celebrations of the Police Force.

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, March 25: Police will take immediate action against those who encroached into the restricted Gunung Tabai area in Bau.

Sarawak Police Commissioner Datuk Aidi Ismail has ordered the Bau district police to cordon off the area in order to stop members of the public from entering and conducting illegal gold mining.

He was commenting on the incident where a 26-year-old man identified as Mat Tapa was trapped and crushed to death by rocks in a tunnel inside a cave in Gunung Tabai yesterday.

“What these people are doing (gold diggers) is very dangerous. Each of them is taking the opportunity to dig for gold although they know very well that it is an illegal, dangerous and life-threatening activity. I urged the public to stop doing this.

“We will discuss with the Bau Resident and district office to legally declare this place as a restricted area as soon as possible so that we can take immediate action by arresting those who encroach in the future,” Aidi said after officiating the police force 214th-anniversary celebration this morning.

Mat Tapa from Kampung Bijuray Monggag, went by himself to dig for gold in the area at 5.30am on March 23.

A 26-year-old man identified as Mat Tapa was trapped and crushed to death by rocks in a tunnel inside this cave in Gunung Tabai, Bau.

Failing to locate him despite being told he was seen in the area, his family members lodged a missing person report for assistance on March 24.

Bau district police chief DSP Poge Nyaon disclosed that apart from Mat, there were two other men trapped inside as well when the cave-in occurred due to soil movement.

He also confirmed that the cave located some 4km from Kampung Bijuray has indeed contained gold and it is an area where gold seekers from all over the area will invade to make their riches.

Preliminary investigation and family identification also confirmed that the buried victim was Mat Tapa based on the shirt that was identified.

Firefighters led by Bau Fire station chief Tawang Lingem in the search and rescue (SAR) said the operation to remove the deceased from the rubble continues today.

“Our team managed to enter the narrow tunnel and we found the victim’s body at about 4.30pm. However, we had to stop SAR at 5pm because the location of the body was too dangerous for our rescuers due to the movement of the rocks and soil,” Tawang said.

While Mat Tapa was trapped and buried under the rubble, the other two men were pulled out alive by rescuers.-DayakDaily