Sungai Buloh: Even before the nine family members stepped into the boat that claimed six of their lives, Nageswari Oorvijayan knew there was something wrong with the trip.
It was windy and the waves were strong. There were only two life jackets. “But since everyone was happy and we were having so much fun, we just enjoyed each others’ company,” said Nageswari who is one of the survivors of a boat that sank off the coast of Bagan Sungai Kajang when returning after a prayer ritual at the sea.
The boat, carrying nine family members and five boatmen, had left the Sungai Kajang fishermen’s jetty at about 3pm and sprang a leak and sank as it was returning to shore two hours later, killing six of the relatives and the middleman who arranged the trip.
Among the dead was Jaya Sangkari Gnanasegaran, who was suppose to have been betrothed tomorrow. The others were Jaya Sangkari’s mother M. Gnanasudary, 59, uncle M. Kunasegaran, 57, his wife A. Muniamah, 49, their son K. Logaraj, 29, and A. Pakianathan, the middleman.
The Selangor Fire and Rescue Department found the body of Nageswari’s brother, Ravi Shankar, 25, today. The cremation for all seven will be held tomorrow. Nageswari’s cousin, C. Sathyah, 25, and four boatmen – N. Sanmugan, M. Sugaamaran, S. Alumalai, C. Sundraja and S. Partiven – were rescued by passing fishermen after clinging for an hour to the half-submerged boat.
Unable to control her tears, Nageswari who is an undergraduate studying Human Resources, said most of them were wet from the strong waves before reaching the prayer spot, a half-hour boat ride from the shore. “Upon finishing the prayers, were taking pictures and laughing.
Then the big waves caused the boat to sink. All of a sudden we were in the sea. Some of us were hanging on to the boat. (There was) panic, (and) everyone (was) screaming,” she said at her parent’s home in Kampung Sri Indah, Sungai Buloh. She said the boat which rescued them only came after an hour. “This was our first time taking the boat out to sea. I cannot accept what has happened.”
Acting MIC president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, after visiting the grieving family, said he would speak to the Welfare Department and the prime minister on the type of assistance that could be extended to the family. He said he hoped the safety precautions needed in boats would be looked into as boat operators have the responsibility to provide safety to users. “They were not wearing life jackets. These things are not taken into consideration. But such a simple act could have saved lives.”