Ongoing Op to Retrieve SUV from Sea

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Eight people have given their testimonies but police will be calling in more people for their statements.

Separate, but related matters:

  • This morning, police boat brought back semi-conscious body of 33-year-old man believed to have fallen off new Penang bridge
  • Facebook user Chuah apologises for putting down SAR efforts in recovery operation of the SUV
  • Penang CM calls for review of guard-rail standards after bridge crash

The operation to retrieve an SUV that fell into the sea, along with the driver, following an accident on the Penang Bridge last Sunday resumed today with 40 divers taking turns to hook a cable to the Mazda CX-5.

The divers were from the Marine Police, Royal Malaysian Navy, Maritime Malaysia, and Fire & Rescue Service said Marine Police Region 1 commander ACP Rosman Ismail.

Bernama

“Two divers will be in the water for 20 minutes at a time during the operation,” he told reporters on the bridge at Km 4 on the side for traffic heading to Perai on the peninsula mainland.

Seberang Prai Tengah district police chief Assistant Commissioner Nik Ros Azhan Nik Abd Hamid said eight people have given their testimonies but police will be calling in more people for their statements.

“We have taken statements from the victim’s friends and family and we will be calling in more witnesses to record their statement,” he told reporters today.

However, he added that no one has been arrested yet.

He revealed that police have yet to get the testimony of the owner of the dashboard camera who video recorded the incident and have also not yet recorded the statement from the Vios driver who is currently under observation at a private hospital.

“We will look at his condition first, we will record his statement soon,” he said.

On a separate matter, the search-and-recovery (SAR) team put on standby at the Marine Police base in Batu Uban to retrieve the SUV were surprised when a police boat brought back the semi-conscious body of a 33-year-old man.

The man, whose identity has not been released, is believed to have fallen off the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge (the new Penang bridge) at KM2.2 on Tuesday (Jan 22).

The victim was clad in a black coat, white shirt and black pants.

It was a fisherman beneath the bridge who noticed a splash and rushed to recover the victim at about 9.30am, and the Marine Police on standby were quickly alerted of the incident.

Earlier, a police report was lodged in Langkawi against a Facebook user named Chuah Chun Howe for deriding the recovery operation of the SUV.

The man mistakenly assumed that the operation was being carried out only by the Fire and Rescue Department and posted a comment on Facebook about “our bomba rescue squad”.

He used the word “suck” and said “…so near also fail to locate out, all tido (sleep) and makan (eat) saje.”

Following his outburst, Chuah drew flak on social media.

Today, he apologised to firemen for making the disparaging remarks, with photos surfacing online showing him shaking hands with several firemen at the Jalan Perak fire station.

An online news portal shared a written statement from Chuah who expressed regret over his actions.

“I truly regret what I said about the Fire and Rescue Department. I take full responsibility and am here to apologise at the Jalan Perak fire station and seek forgiveness from Tuan Ismail (station chief Ismail Mohd Zain).

Jalan Perak fire station chief Ismail Mohd Zain said the man came to the station at around 9.30am to apologise.

“We told him that there were no hard feelings as he also said that he did not think about the impact of his actions.

“I told him that he should apologise online where the comment was made, but he said that his account had been suspended.

“We explained to him that everyone wanted to finish the operation as quickly as possible, but safety is a priority,” he said.

Ismail added he was unsure why the apology was made at the Jalan Perak fire station as there are other agencies involved in the operations as well.

“I suppose he stays nearby,” he said, adding that the SAR operation is not an easy task due to the murky waters and strong currents.

It was reported that a sea captain who declined to be named said rescuers must be fighting against a tide current of 2.5 knots as they tried to recover the car and body.

“The Thaipusam full moon created a huge tidal difference of 0.5m at the lowest tide and 2.2m at the highest when the accident happened. This created a strong tidal flow, and the flow through the narrow Penang channel is more intense,” said the captain, who is familiar with Penang waters.

He added that the seabed around Penang Bridge was a thick layer of soft mud and he expected the car had sunk deeply into the mud, making it more difficult to pull out.

This morning (Jan 22), Marine Police Region 1 commander Asst Comm Rosman Ismail said divers had been deployed since 9am and were relieved to find that the current was not as strong as the previous day.

ACP Rosman said the rising tide was expected to be at its highest around Penang Bridge by 1.30pm, and the current would stop for some time before low tide kicked in.

Sayuti Zainudin

“The main challenge will be to secure the SUV at its strongest point and hoist it up safely,” he said.

Today marks the third day of the recovery operation involving 147 personnel.

Attempts to raise the car out of the water yesterday were unsuccessful.

Following the incident of the SUV plunging into the sea following a crash, concession companies have been urged to review the mechanisms for guard-rail installation at the Penang Bridge and Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the existing guard-rails may not be high enough.


Earlier report: Jan 21, Penang Bridge Crash: SUV Located Under Bridge