CHUKAI: The eight individuals, including seven family members, who are still missing in the water surge incident at the Jeram Mawar waterfall, Air Putih near here yesterday, have been identified.
Kemaman district police chief Hanyan Ramlan said the family members were identified as Karim Abdullah, 39; Putri Balqis Izzati Abdul Rahman, 18; Putri Alleya Maisarah Karim, 16; Putri Nor Fatin Karim, 14; Putri Nurerina Natasya Karim, 10; Haziq Ziqree Karim, 6, and Putri Aryana Umaira Karim, 4.
The other person missing is Putri Balqis’ fiance, Fikri Saliman, 24, from Batu Pahat, Johor.
The bodies of two victims were found at separate locations at about 12.30pm yesterday. They were identified as Azizah Eiyi, 40, and her son Zulqarnain Haikal Karim, 11.
Hanyan said the remains of the two victims were identified by family members at Hospital Kemaman last night.
“The family, from Felda Lepar Hilir, Kuantan, Pahang had been at the waterfall for a picnic since 2pm on Saturday,” he told a press conference at the Kemaman district police headquarters last night.
Azizah’s body was found about 24km from the scene of the incident after being swept away by the currents, while Zulqarnain’s body was found stuck on a tree branch about 2km away.
He said it is believed that Karim, who is an excavator driver in the Air Putih forest here, was familiar with the routes at the location and was able to enter the area even though the vehicle he used was unsuitable.
“They might have been unaware of the sudden surge of water. If you look at the situation at the location earlier, the water level is believed to have risen by 5-10m during the incident, and they did not have time to escape while bathing there,” he said.
Hanyan said the search and rescue (SAR) operation involving 50 personnel from the police force, the fire and rescue department (Bomba), the civil defence force was suspended at 6pm due to unfavourable weather conditions and would resume at 8am today.
“As of 10pm, no new discoveries had been made at the scene. Taking into account the area where the first body was discovered, the radius of our search area was 24km.
“We will begin the search in the morning on the left and right banks for about 8km either way. We believe that the victims’ location may be far from where the incident started because they were swept away by the strong currents,” he said.
According to Hanyan, the operation would involve tracker dogs from Bomba’s K9 unit as well as assistance from other agencies and outsiders.
“In fact, if members of the public wish to help with the search, we encourage them to do so, however, they must first report themselves to the Air Putih police station. They are reminded not to conduct a search without the police’s knowledge,” he said.
He said the SAR operation today will involve three phases of the search area depending on the weather conditions.
In the meantime, he said the bodies of Azizah and Zulqarnain will be taken to Hospital Sultanah Nur Zahirah in Kuala Terengganu today for a post-mortem.