Family of angler feared drown at sea says safety needs to be priority

Nuradzimmah Daim

LUMUT: The family of Khairolafni Ahmad Ghani, 31, from Pantai Remis, who was feared drown while on a fishing trip on Saturday, hopes that the incident would serve as a lesson to all in ensuring that safety is given utmost priority.

In the first incident reported off Lumut waters this year, Khairani Ahmad Ghani, 36, said his brother, was on a fishing trip with eight others and was fishing at the rear of the boat while his friends were sleeping on Saturday.

“He didn’t have a life jacket on and was wearing jeans, which could explain why he could not save himself even though he knew how to swim and this was not his first fishing trip.

“He is an avid fishing enthusiast and had gone to various fishing sites including in Terengganu.

“The boat’s skipper had apologised to me over the incident, but there’s nothing we can do. He said he swam for about 100 metres to rescue Khairolafni but failed,” he said.

In relating the incident, Khairani said he was told by Khairolafni’s friends that the latter was alone when they heard a loud splash of something falling into the sea.

“The others were sleeping at the boat’s bow area. They immediately alerted the skipper who attempted to rescue him. As the weather was bad, my brother drifted away from the boat swiftly. One minute they saw him gasping for air, the next he had disappeared and they couldn’t spot him anywhere.

“I hope this will serve as a lesson to all. There’s no point in blaming others as my brother is already gone.

“However we can prevent a recurrence. Boat operators must provide safety equipment and ensure those on board put on their life jacket before heading out to sea,” he said, looking teary-eyed when met at Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) office here.

MMEA district director Captain Zulinda Ramly said the search-and-rescue operation continues with some 30 personnel from MMEA, Fire and Rescue Department and marine police looking for Khairolafni or any evidence that could lead to a discovery.

She said the agency had received a distress call from the boat's skipper at around noon.

At the time of the incident, the boat was about seven nautical miles from Pangkor Island.