Kuala Lumpur – Six Malaysian rescue divers drowned in a freak accident while searching for a boy who had gone missing in a pool at an abandoned tin mine, emergency officials said Thursday.

 

The 17-year-old boy had gone missing Wednesday while fishing in the pool popular with anglers in the township of Puchong west of the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Mohammad Hamdan Wahid, fire and rescue department director-general, said the divers encountered strong undercurrents that spun them around in the murky water.

Local police chief Abdul Aziz Ali said the spinning caused them to lose their diving gear. They were pulled out of the water after 30 minutes but by then they were already unconscious, he added.

 Fire chief Mohammad described the death of six officers in one day as the “worst tragedy” to hit his department. The search for the missing youth was continuing, he said.

The Star reported that the Selangor Government has ordered the Sepang Municipal Council to close down the mining pool in Taman Putra Perdana, Puchong once the search-and-rescue (SAR) operations for the teenager is completed.

Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari said the closure was necessary following several drowning cases reported in the area, with the latest involving six firefighters who were part of the SAR operations last night.

“I received a report that this (drowning at the mining pool) was not the first, and I have instructed the Sepang Municipal Council to increase security surveillance, including closing off the area.

“The closure will take effect as soon as the SAR operations, now being conducted there, are completed,” he told reporters after meeting the family members of the firefighters at the Fire and Rescue Station in Section 15 here Thursday (Oct 4).

Also present was Director-General of the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department Mohamad Hamdan Wahid.

Amirudin said he also ordered the municipal council to close the route to the mining pool which was a popular fishing site.

“I understand that there is a jetty there leading to the mining pool which is now being upgraded to become a water catchment site.

“…and the jetty is not for fishing purposes, if the members of the public want to fish, I advise them to find a safer location,” he said.

Amirudin also said the Selangor government had agreed to contribute RM20,000 to each family of the firefighters who died in the incident.

He said the contribution was to honour them and to lighten the burden faced by their families.

“I represent the state government in conveying my condolences to the family members of the firefighters who died.

“We appreciate their contributions and sacrifices and hope this will lighten their burden,” he said.

Earlier, final funeral rites were performed on the bodies of the six firefighters from the Fire and Rescue Department Department’s Water Rescue Unit (PPDA) at the Fire and Rescue Station in Section 15 at about 9 am.

Two of them were from the Shah Alam fire station while four others were from the Port Klang fire station.