Dragon boat race survivors vow to keep away from sea
Mon, Jan 18, 2010
New Straits Times
George Town: Some survivors of the dragon boat tragedy here have vowed to stay away from the sea forever.
Lim Wan Yang, 16, said he feared the end was near when he fell into the sea.
The Chung Ling High School student said the waves were relentless and just came crashing over those who had fallen overboard.
"After the boat capsized, I still held on to the boat for dear life," he said when met at the Penang Hospital.
Fear also gripped Kim Chuan Khye, 17, but he was thankful for the fishing boat that came to save him and several others.
Kim said he and the others had been out at sea for training when the big wave came crashing over them and pushed them over board.
"We were really lucky that there was a fishing boat nearby and we called out to them to come and save us.
"After we were rescued, we were sent to the hospital."
Yee Bee Fatt, 41, who is coaching the school's dragon boat team, said the boat tipped over suddenly after it was hit by a wave.
The three, as well as a fourth, Kassim Sidek, 16, have been warded at the hospital with injuries to their hands and feet and were reported to be in stable condition. They were among the 12 who were rescued.
Family members of deceased teacher Chin Aik Siang, 28, arrived at the hospital mortuary about 1.25pm after his body was fished out of the water at 10.50am.
Aik Siang's mother could hardly control herself as family members tried to console her.
Aik Siang's father, Chin Joo Mong, 59, said his son had gone out very early yesterday morning without their knowledge.
Joo Mong said he received a call from his son's friends informing him of the tragic incident.
Kuah Zi Xun, 17, who was rescued after the boat capsized, said the boat had collided with a barge before it overturned.
He said only 10 of the rowers wore life jackets as there were not enough to go around. Kuah said the boat was hit by strong undercurrents twice as the rowers paddled past a barge.
"It came swiftly, nearly overturned our boat and pushed us towards the barge," Kuah said on the pontoon of the Gat Lebuh Macallum near Harbour Trade Centre.
Kuah said the team lost control of the boat and tried to cling to the side of the barge after the collision.
However, he said the rowers could not hold on to the barge due to its slippery surface.
Kuah added that a second wave of undercurrent hit and capsized the boat.
"We fell into the sea with some of us trapped beneath the barge. It was so frightening and I
shouted frantically for help. "I was in the water for a short while and saw several of my team members floating," Kuad said.
Kuah counted his blessing as he was one of the rowers who had worn a life jacket.
He was plucked up by a rescue team from the Fire and Rescue Department shortly after the boat capsized.