CHUKAI, July 7 — In addition to using their physical strength, the search and rescue operation (SAR) team of the Jeram Air Putih water surge tragedy here, had to crack their brains and think outside the box to simplify matters and speed up efforts to remove the victims from the scene of the incident.

It included building a stretcher using wooden sticks to carry the eighth body, Putri Alleya Maisarah Karim, 16, who was found on the third day of SAR in sector A, on a sandbar at a height of five metres (m).

Chukai Fire and Rescue Station chief, Senior Fire Superintendent Zailani Abdullah said due to the landscape of the area in sector A being quite challenging, they decided to build a stretcher themselves using the resources available around the location.

“We cut some shrubs two to three metres long and tied them to put the body on the boat. That all needs to be done because we want to bring the body down to a place where the police Hilux can access, to bring the body to the Operations Control Centre. If we were to wait for other teams to send stretchers, it would take a long time,” he said when met at the Operation Control Centre at Air Putih Police Station, here.

Describing the tragedy as the worst in terms of the number of drowned victims involved throughout his 12 years of service, Zailani said the discovery of Putri Alleya Maisarah’s body was also in the last moments before the SAR operation that day ended.

In addition to Putri Alleya Maisarah, Zailani’s team also found and managed to bring out the body of Karim Abdullah, 39, last Monday.

“Apart from Marang Civil Defence Force (CDF), the SAR mission also received help from Kuala Terengganu, Kuala Nerus and Dungun CDF branches.

The ninth body that was found today has not been officially confirmed by the police but did not rule out the possibility that it was Muhammad Fikri Saliman, 24, from Batu Pahat, Johor and the body was taken to the Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital (HSNZ) in Kuala Terengganu for identification by the next of kin and post-mortem.

The SAR operation involving 242 members and eight tracking dogs from the JBPM K9 Unit and the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) was temporarily halted today at 12 noon and resumed at 3 pm today to locate another missing victim, Putri Nor Fatin Karim, 14.


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