Search continues for 2 Singaporeans missing in Johor forest

singapore-missingKULAI: As the search goes on for two Singaporeans reported missing in the Gunung Pulai Forest Reserve near here, police believe the hikers may have got lost because they did not use the route usually taken by climbers.

“So far, we have found no signs. However, we have ruled out any element of crime,” Johor police chief Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd told reporters at the search-and-rescue (SAR) operations centre in Kampung Seri Gunung Pulai.

The missing hikers have been identified as Dominick Tan Chang Xiang and a woman, Lum Jie, both 27.

Tan is said to be an experienced mountain climber and had frequently gone up Gunung Pulai.

Khalil said this was the first time that it had been more than 48 hours since people had been reported missing in the Gunung Pulai Forest Reserve. Tan and Lum had gone missing on Monday.

“We know they have telephones but the batteries could have been drained out. The current weather is fine and it allows us to break up the search into sectors and move from one sector to the next,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kulai Fire and Rescue Station chief Mohd Khairi S Zainudin, who is the SAR operations commander, said the usual route from the foothill near Kampung Seri Gunung Pulai to the peak was 3km long.

“The distance from the foothill is 1.5km to Bukit 308, the last location from where the hikers had made the emergency telephone call,” he said.

The climbers had entered the Gunung Pulai area at 12.15pm on Monday and made the emergency telephone call to the authorities at 5.55pm on the same day. They were last contacted about 10pm.

The SAR operation has been mounted by nine groups of rescuers from various agencies and they were covering an area 36km around Gunung Pulai.

Singapore’s consul-general in Johor Bahru, Rajpal Singh, was at the SAR operations centre and talked to the families of the missing hikers.

Talking about the usual route up the hill, Khalil said many climbers strayed from the route to admire the beauty of the flora and fauna.

He advised climbers to stick to the well-used route.

“If they want to stray, they should know how to set markers to enable them to get back to the route. Keeping to the route will prevent one from getting lost,” he said.