It was reported that a helicopter carrying 6 people including several VIPs from Betong to Kuching, Sarawak went missing Thursday evening (5th May).
Sarawak Police Commissioner Datuk Seri Muhammad Sabtu Osman stated that the Eurocopter AS350 departed on Thursday from Betong at 4:12pm and radar contact was lost at 4:32pm, 20 minutes after take-off. He also added that the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) confirmed that there was no proof of the helicopter being discovered, urging concerned citizens to not believe in rumours.
The 6 passengers onboard the Eurocopter AS350 include:
- Datuk Noriah Kasnon, Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities and Member of Parliament Sungai Besar.
- Asmuni Abdullah, Noriah’s husband.
- Datuk Dr. Sundaran Annamalai, Ministry’s Secretary-General of Plantation Industries and Commodities.
- Datuk Wan Mohammad Khair-il Anuar Wan Ahmad, Member of Parliament Kuala Kangsar and Malaysian Palm Oil Board member.
- Ahmad Sobri Harun, Noriah’s personal bodyguard.
- Captain Rudolf Rex Ragas, helicopter pilot.
According to NST, the chopper’s last known location is Sebuyau, a wide, swampy, crocodile-infested river close to the sea and a team search and rescue operation has been mounted since last night.
Muhammad Sabtu Osman said that there are 100 personnel from the Marine Police, Fire and Rescue Department, Police, General Operations Force and Civil Defence Department involved in the operation.
Take a look at the timeline for more detailed information:
The search started again this morning at 6:26am in Sebuyau ferry docks. The Fire and Rescue Department team is covering a 10km radius starting from the sea. As of now, 24 rescuers and 3 boats have been deployed to course over the search area.
“We will conduct our search from the sea, Batang Lupar river, to areas in Linggi. Other than that, we will also scout for potential areas like Batang Sadong where the helicopter might have gone missing,” said Operations chief Azman Julaihi.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the passengers onboard and we hope that the helicopter will be found soon.
UPDATE (6th May 2016, 12:41pm):
The Star reported that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that the debris, believed to be from the missing AS350 helicopter, was found near Batang Lupar at 9:50am.
The debris consists of a rotor blade, a floatation device, part of a helicopter wall, a door, and a seat.
Check out photos from the rescue site below:
Also, according to Bernama and BOMBA’s latest tweet, an unidentified body was found near the location where the helicopter parts was found at 12pm.
#Helicopter: Body found at noon near location of discovery of helicopter parts at Batang Lupar river – Sarawak Fire & Rescue Dept
— BERNAMA (@bernamadotcom) May 6, 2016
— BOMBA (@bombaJBPM) May 6, 2016
Please stay tuned for more information.
Source: The Star.
UPDATE (9th May 2016, 10.40am):
According to The Star, the final victim, Captain Rudolph Rex Ragas, is still missing. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) confirmed that the captain is of Philippine registry.
The search and rescue operation searching the waters of Batang Lupar is still ongoing. The operation includes a team of 29 SAR members and 9 boats.
As of Sunday (8th May), the bodies of the 5 Malaysian victims from the ill-fated helicopter crash have been recovered: Datuk Noriah Kasnon, Asmuni Abdullah, Datuk Dr. Sundaran Annamala, Datuk Wan Mohammad Khair-il Anuar Wan Ahmad, and Ahmad Sobri Harun.
It was reported that the bodies of Datuk Noriah and her husband Asmuni Abdullah were buried next to each other at the Batu 12 Sungai Burong Muslim cemetery while Datuk Wan Mohammad was laid to rest at Kuala Kangsar. In Subang Jaya, friends and families paid their last respect to Datuk Dr. Sundaran at his home in USJ 2.
This tragedy took away the lives of some the country’s most prominent leaders – Datuk Noriah and Datuk Wan Mohammad were members of the parliament, while Datuk Dr. Sundaran was an important leader shaping the Indian community.
Our most sincere thoughts are with the families of the deceased and we hope the body of the final victim, Captain Rudolph, can be recovered as soon as possible.