Less than a month after he survived the 7.4-magnitude earthquake in Palu, Sulawesi – and helped to rescue a mother and daughter trapped under a rubble – a Singaporean former army commando died in a paragliding accident in India on Monday (22 October).
Ng Kok Choong, 53, was found dead on Tuesday, a day after he went missing. According to an obituary on the website of the Air Sports Federation of Singapore, Ng took off with his paraglider at about 11am in Bir-Billing, Himachal Pradesh, India, when the weather worsened and he did not return to his hotel. Indian rescuers flying a helicopter found his body on Tuesday.
The obituary added, “We are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of our beloved friend, Ng Kok Choong, a beautiful soul who flew with us these many years.
“He was selfless, brave and always moving for the next challenge. As recently as a month ago, he was involved in a dramatic rescue of a child during the 2018 Palu earthquake. Coming from a commando background during his National Service years, his always-can-do attitude was highly appreciated and admired by his mates.”
A news report on India’s The Tribune said that Ng had come to Bir-Billing to participate in the Paragliding World Cup to be held from Saturday. Bir-Billing is among the top 10 paragliding sites in the world.
Another report on The Hindustan Times quoted a Baijnath sub-divisional magistrate Vikas Shukla as saying that Ng probably lost control due to strong winds and crash-landed on the other side of the mountains.
Ng, a retired real-estate agent, was also in Palu for a paragliding competition when the earthquake struck on 28 September.
The only Singaporean in the competition, he and Belgian paraglider Francois de Neuville had just walked out of their hotel and were heading to the beach when the earth shook. Fearing the ensuing tsunami, they dashed back inside the hotel, and found a young girl and her mother lying trapped under fallen rubble.
The duo managed to pull the young girl out first, and the Belgian, with the girl in arms, climbed a tree to seek refuge from the tsunami. Ng climbed up a few floors of the hotel, and then returned to help rescue the mother.