Drowning tragedy a first for the department, says DG

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin (right) with the wife of Mohd Fatah Hashim, one of the six divers who drowned in a search and rescue operation last night. (Bernama pic)

SERDANG: Yesterday’s tragedy which saw six divers from the Fire and Rescue Department’s Water Rescue Unit (PPDA) drown during a search and rescue operation was the first such case in the department’s history, says director-general Mohammad Hamdan Wahid.

When met at the Serdang Hospital here, Hamdan said before this, there were very few fatal accidents involving firemen.

“This is the first time (that six personnel have died). There was one previous case when we lost two members of the department.

“We carried out CPR but could not save them. This is a very sad day for us. (The tragedy) involved so many of our employees.”

The six PPDA divers died last night while conducting a search and rescue operation for a teenager who fell into a disused mining pool at Taman Putra Perdana, Puchong.

Hamdan said the department would look at every aspect of welfare for the victims’ families, including in terms of compensation and insurance.

He added that the hospital’s forensic department was conducting a post-mortem on all of the victims.

Once the post-mortems are completed, the remains will be taken to the Shah Alam fire and rescue station for a final tribute before being brought to the victims’ hometowns for burial.

The divers who drowned were Mohd Fatah Hashim, 34; Izatul Akma Wan Ibrahim, 32; Mazlan Omarbaki, 25; and Yahya Ali, 24, from the Port Klang PPDA.

The other two victims, Adnan Othman, 33, and Muhammad Hifdzul Malik Shaari, 25, were from the Shah Alam PPDA.

Hamdan said the victims came from Sibu, Sarawak; Tawau, Sabah; Kelantan; Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan; and Shah Alam, Selangor.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin and Balakong assemblyman Wong Siew Ki were also at the hospital to comfort the victims’ family members.

Shamiza Salleh, the wife of Adnan Othman, said she received a call on the tragedy at 11pm.

“I was informed about what happened by his friend. I was at home then,” the 32-year-old said.

She broke down after that and was unable to say anything more.