Swift action saves more than 100 lives in raging waters off Miri

Swift action saves more than 100 lives in raging waters off Miri

KUCHING: Sarawakians were rudely awakened yesterday by news that a vessel had hit the structure of a drilling platform offshore Miri, about 800km from here, after being battered by the tailspin of Typhoon Molave.

A total of 187 personnel were inside the ill-fated MV Dayang Topaz when one of its anchor cables snapped as Molave caused the helpless vessel to swerve uncontrollably between the swelling waves of the South China Sea and hit the structure of the nearby drilling platform.

Drillers, scaffolders and engineers were said to be among those inside the enclosed cabin of the vessel as they held on to their lives in the unexpected turn of events in the normally calm South China Sea.

Their fate was first known to the world when the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) alerted the media in Sarawak to the situation.

“Dayang Topaz is about to sink and there are 62 crew who are still inside it; 125 others had jumped ship,” said the first statement received by the media here.

With the raging typhoon still pounding the area, MMEA began to pool its resources, including assistance from an oil company in Brunei, to mount an operation to save the victims.

By 10am, the agency confirmed that all those inside the vessel had been saved and were on the way to be sent to Miri shore by sea, with the exception of two workers who were injured and required to be airlifted immediately to the Miri Hospital.

While it was immediately known after the rescue mission that the incident had claimed one life, the second fatality was only revealed by MMEA to the media at about 7.30pm. Their identities have been withheld by the authorities out of respect for their families.

Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, in a press conference late this evening, said that all the survivors who came back to shore were required to undergo a 14-day quarantine as part of the state’s Covid-19 screening procedure.

“This procedure is not meant to encumber them, but I hope they will understand that we need to make sure for the sake of public health in Sarawak,” he said.-Bernama