Tuesday, October 27, 2009

1 dead, 2 missing, 19 safe after falling into Sg Kampar

The MACC should check this out.

Ironically, the iron-cable bridge, suspended about 3 meters over the river, was built recently to replace an old one that had fallen apart with age.

KAMPAR: One girl is dead, two pupils are still missing and nineteen have been found safe after 22 students fell into Sungai Kampar.

The pupils, on a camping trip, tumbled into the river when the suspension bridge they were crossing broke near Kuala Dipang, Kampar, at about 10pm on Monday.

Police divers searching for 2 missing pupils who had fallen off the suspension bridge at Sungai Kampar in Kuala Dipang on Monday night.

The dead girl was identified as Dina Deve Nathan, 11, from SK Tamil Mambang Diawan. Rescuers found her at Kampung Pasir, about 2km downstream from the broken bridge, at about 8.40am Tuesday. Her body was sent to the Kampar Hospital.

Police said twenty other pupils, who were not on the bridge, escaped unscathed.

Some pupils jumped and shook the bridge

According to one of the survivors, Mohd Azid Teng, 12, from SKJC Bemban near Kampar, the pupils had had supper at SK Kuala Dipang and were crossing the bridge to get to the camping site when a few of the pupils started jumping and shaking the bridge.

A man walking near the ill-fated suspension bridge at Sungai Kampar which collapsed when a group of primary school pupils, who were camping near the river, tried to cross it last night. SAIFUL BAHRI/The Star

The bridge then gave way and he found himself falling into the river along with the other screaming pupils.

Fortunately, he fell into shallow waters and waded out.

Rescuers retrieving the body of Dina Deve Nathan, 11, from SK Tamil Mambang Diawan at 8.40am on October 27.

The pupils were among 298 from 60 primary schools from Kampar, Tronoh and Batu Gajah who were attending a 1Malaysia Camp co-curriculum activity organised by the Kinta Selatan District Education Department there.

Teacher saves several pupils

A teacher, Mohd Safri Abdul Rafar, said he was not far from the bridge when it collapsed and quickly jumped over a fence and dove into the river in the attempt to rescue the pupils, Bernama reported.

"I managed to pull out three or four pupils. The current was swift and I almost got dragged away," he said.

Safri, who is from Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Tronoh, said he went into the river again and pulled out five more pupils.

Safri said he was sad that he could not rescue a pupil who had be clinging to a metal cable before being dragged away by the current.

Twenty-three teachers are involved in the camp, the second to be organised by the Kinta Selatan district education department after the first one at Sekolah Kebangsaan Pos Raya last week.

Similar camps were to be held simultaneously Tuesday in the Larut, Matang and Selama as well as Manjung districts, said Safri, adding that the pupils were from all races and the aim of the camp was to foster unity and interaction through activities such as traditional cooking, culture and games.

Newly built bridge

Ironically, the iron-cable bridge, about 30 feet (9 meters) over the river was built recently to replace an old one that had fallen apart with age.

In Putrajaya, Fire and Rescue Services Department director-general Datuk Hamzah Abu Bakar said that initial investigations revealed that the anchor for the bridge’s cable failed, The Star’s Dharmender Singh reported.

The anchor was pulled out and the bridge gave way. But why it gave way is yet to be ascertained, he said.

The river level late Monday had been relatively low but the current was strong as it had been raining upstream and this could have carried the missing children further away, he said.

He said the department had sent in aluminium rescue boats, three dogs from its Canine Unit and a helicopter to help with the search activities.

“We have also put a few members of out scuba team on standby at the site in case the missing children are trapped and need help in freeing them,” he said.

Perak MB orders probe into bridge collapse

Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir visited the scene soon after news of the bridge collapse reached him and ordered an immediate investigation into the cause of the accident, Bernama reported.

"The suspension bridge was newly built. We want to know if it was built to specifications as it collapsed after a metal pillar got ripped off the ground," he said.

A metal pillar and its concrete block foundation got ripped off the ground in the incident and part of the bridge walkway was afloat on the river.

The Kampar River is known for extreme water sports. The part of the river where the bridge collapsed is about 1.5 metres deep.

Villagers have joined in the search and rescue operation mounted by 222 personnel from the police, Royal Malaysian Navy, Fire & Rescue Department, People's Volunteer Corps (Rela), Civil Defence Department and other agencies.

Meanwhile, at 11.15am Tuesday, Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran filed an emergency motion with the Dewan Rakyat Speaker to discuss the collapse of the bridge, Lee Yuk Peng of The Star reported.

Later, the Dewan Rakyat extended its sympathies and condolences to the families of pupils who fell into the river.

Education Ministry sets up probe team; RM10,000 aid to dead Dina's family

Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who was at the scene Tuesday, said that a team, headed by Education Ministry Director-General Tan Sri Ali Muddin Md Dom, has been set up to investigate the bridge collapse, The Star's Sylvia Looi reported.

The ministry would give RM10,000 in aid to Dina's family, said Muhyiddin who is also the Deputy Prime Minister

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