We cannot gamble with more lives without visibility and proper equipment, says Kuching Zone fire chief

Yusri Basri

By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, Oct 4: The Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) team is only following the standard operating procedure (SOP) in the search and rescue (SAR) operation of 10 missing anglers near Pulau Satang Besar in Telaga Air.

Kuching zone fire chief PgKB I Yusri Basri said on top of a mission of a firefighter to save people’s lives, he must also consider the lives of his subordinates as well.


Yusri explained that as the sun sets, his men wouldn’t be able to do much in the dark so the operation was postponed to the next day.

“The main reason is the safety of the SAR team. There was no other reason. Instead of looking only at my subordinates in the SAR team, I am looking at the people behind them – their wives and children. Anything happen to them (Bomba personnel), the ones who suffer are their families,” he told DayakDaily earlier today.

He was responding to Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah who recently questioned the SAR team for postponing the search “too early” at 6.30pm on the first day of SAR (Oct 2).

Yusri understands and shares empathy on how the case might have impacted certain quarters emotionally but he said unreasonable criticism should be avoided as it can bring stress and pressure into the operation.

He also explained that the SAR team has limited knowledge of the sea unlike the locals or fishermen who knows the ins and outs of the sea because it is their bread and butter.

“Therefore, although it is night time, they (local villagers) know where to go. They know the waters, the sea currents, the cliffs and how to avoid them. They have the knowledge and skill because it is the area they lived in.

“However, for the SAR team, without any visibility and lack of equipment such as adequate petrol, we wouldn’t be able to carry out the operation in the dark. We cannot gamble on the directions and proceed with the operation without proper equipment and endanger more lives,” he said.

Touching on the operation, he said the Bomba has deployed a boat in charge of the search on coastal areas from Telaga Air jetty to Pulau Sampadi since yesterday (Oct 3).

“Now, we will add a bigger boat which has been deployed to Santubong jetty and will search up to Telaga Air. Our part in the SAR operation is to conduct the search on coastal areas for the one victim who is still missing.

“We will also search around the area where the boat carrying the 10 anglers was believed to have capsised some 21 nautical miles off Pulau Satang Besar,” he disclosed.

Yusri also revealed that the State Bomba might add an aircraft assistance in the operation pending approval.

He said the Bomba has one helicopter which serves the whole of Borneo – Sarawak, Labuan and Sabah.

“I was informed that the helicopter is currently at Long Panai, assisting the Ministry of Health (MOH) in administering vaccines for the local community.

“If it is possible for the helicopter to be included in the SAR operation for the case, it will be flown from Miri to Kuching.

“However, it must be noted that the helicopter needs to serve the whole of Borneo including Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan, which is why the helicopter is based in Miri instead of Kuching,” he elaborated.

Earlier, State Bomba director Khirudin Drahman@Hussaini clarified that the lead agency for the SAR operation is the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Sarawak with the State Bomba as one of the supporting agencies.

“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, the 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. – DayakDaily