Body found in fishing nets could be boat tragedy victim

Grim return: A marine police boat with the body returning to Kota Kinabalu port.

KOTA KINABALU: The body of a woman that could be one of the five missing Chinese tourists was recovered yesterday, a week after the Jan 28 catamaran tragedy.

The decomposing body clad in red shirt and black pants was trapped in fishing nets some 13 nautical miles from where the ill-fated catamaran ferrying 28 Chinese tourists and three crewmen sank.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency Kota Kinabalu director First Admiral Adam Aziz said they could not confirm the identity of the woman as yet.

“The police will be in charge of identifying and confirming whether the woman is among the five missing tourists.

“The families will still be asked to identify the body and if they cannot then a DNA test will be conducted to verify her identity,” he said at the daily search and rescue briefing here yesterday.

“We hope to know her identity by tomorrow,” he added.

Adam said with the finding of the body, they would be shifting their focus on the search area towards the east, near to where the body was found and closer to shore.

Asked whether there were plans to use divers in the search operations, he said that would not be required at this point of time.

“We will try our best to get all of the victims back and there is no time frame as to when we will call off the search as yet,” he added.

The latest discovery is fuelling fears among rescuers that bodies of the missing people could be stuck on the sea bed.

“We hope (if this is really the body of one of the missing victims) then, the rest would be found soon,” Adam said.

He said they received a report of the finding from fishermen at about 9.25am.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Ramli Din said they arranged for the affected families to identify the body first before DNA tests were carried out.

The operation entered the eighth day yesterday with a 1,900 nautical sq-mile search area in waters off Sabah, Miri (Sarawak) and Brunei.

The catamaran sank at about 10am after departing the Tanjung Aru jetty an hour earlier.

The search effort began immediately after the company operating the vessel reported the mishap to the authorities 12 hours after the incident. Most were rescued on Sunday afternoon.

Source: The Star

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