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Coroner slams lackadaisical attitude of crews

Lookout allegedly left his post before accident that claimed two lives. -ST
Elena Chong

Mon, Apr 29, 2013
The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - The crews of a fishing boat and tugboat, which were involved in a collision that claimed the lives of two passengers, had displayed a lackadaisical attitude, said the State Coroner.

Giving his findings on Friday at an inquest into the deaths of Mr Husin Mohd Yunos, 49, and Mr Hamidzan Abdullah, 33, at Jurong River more than a year ago, State Coroner Imran Abdul Hamid said he was disappointed with the level of care and attention shown by the professional crew of the tugboat during the March 31 collision last year.

The two men who died were among nine passengers on board the pleasure craft Basilisk, which was ferrying them on a fishing trip when tragedy struck.

The inquiry heard that both vessels had exceeded the speed limit of 5 knots and neither side was aware of each other's presence when the tugboat Crest Titan 2 rammed the Basilisk.

Crest Titan 2 second officer Salmon Palangan, 28, had left his duty as a lookout on the starboard side of the bridge to prepare drinks for the pilot when the Basilisk could have appeared during his absence, the court heard.

After the collision, a seaman on the tugboat saw someone in the water about 40m from the back of the vessel and immediately rushed to inform his captain, Mr Atip Abdul Latip, 45, about it.

The collision had caused four passengers, including Mr Husin and Mr Hamidzan, to be thrown overboard. 

Mr Husin, Mr Iskandar Kassim 43, and Mr Ramli Dargam, 50, were rescued by other craft and taken to Jurong Fishery Port.

Mr Husin, however, was pronounced dead by a paramedic, while the other two were treated in hospital.

Mr Hamidzan could not be found until the next day, when his body was recovered at the mouth of Jurong River.

When questioned by State Counsel Stella Tan Wei Ling, who was assisting the court in the inquiry, Mr Atip denied asking officer Palangan to make drinks for the pilot of the craft. Neither did Mr Palangan seek his permission to leave his post at the time, he said.

In his findings, Coroner Imran also said he did not accept Basilisk owner Jaafar Kamat's evidence that he had given a safety briefing to the passengers before departure. Neither did he accept the 62-year-old's evidence that he told the passengers about the life jackets on board.

The Coroner noted that those who fell into the water did not reach out for the life jackets straight away, which showed their unfamiliarity with where they were kept.

He said he would leave it to the Maritime Port Authority for the proper course of conduct to take if necessary.

A police spokesman said investigations are ongoing.

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