SAR Ops Centre Relocated To Batu Pahat

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MUAR – The search-and-rescue operations centre set up at Pantai Leka in Parit Jawa to search for missing crewmen of a capsized sand-dredger has been moved to the Batu Pahat Maritime Office.

The centre began operating at Batu Pahat after the one at Pantai Leka was closed at noon today, said Southern Region Maritime Malaysia deputy director (operations) Capt (Maritime) Sanifah Yusof.

The search entered the sixth day today for the nine remaining crew of the sand-dredger JBB Rong Chang 8 which had 18 crew on board when it capsized last Wednesday 12 nautical miles west of Tanjung Tohor off Johor.

The search, with divers from the Royal Malaysian Navy and private companies, has so far resulted in five crew members being found alive and four bodies recovered, leaving nine crew members unaccounted for.

Sanifah told reporters at Pantai Leka, before the SAR operations centre closed, that the area of search had been extended to 400 square nautical miles and that all the assets involved in the operation were still at their locations.

He also said that the search would also focus on small assets in the coastal waters, where there was a possibility of finding the crew, with the help of helicopters of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

Sanifah said help had been sought from the Indonesian search and rescue agency, BASARNAS, to conduct a search in Indonesian waters.

“We have also been in touch with fishermen’s associations along the coast from Batu Pahat to Melaka, and have asked them to help in the search and report to us,” he said.

He said the five crew members found alive were reported to be in stable condition at the Sultanah Fatimah Special Hospital in Muar.

“The survivors are able to eat and drink, but are still being monitored by doctors,” he said, adding that the hospital had enlisted the help of psychiatrists as some of the survivors were in a state of trauma.

Sanifah said the capsized vessel was still at the same location and would be left there until the Marine Department had completed its investigation.

The operation switched from search by divers at the vessel to search in the surrounding waters after repeated dives failed to detect any sign of life, he added. – BERNAMA