Navy divers deployed in search for crashed chopper

KUCHING, May 7 ― Twenty divers from the Royal Malaysian Navy have been deployed in the search for a helicopter that crashed in Sarawak with six onboard, police said today.

Sarawak deputy police commissioner Datuk Abdul Aziz Yusof said the divers were called in to assist with the search for their expertise in handling emergency situations.

“The divers are well trained and highly experienced to navigate through the murky waters and swamps, where the search is currently concentrated on,” he said.

He said the search efforts were narrowed down to a 7km radius based on their current findings.

“The high tide here brings very strong currents, and based on where we found the second body, search efforts would be concentrated around that particular area,” he said.

“At this point, it was hard to determine if the bodies would be found floating, or would have sunk,” he said.

Abdul Aziz said the second body, which was found this morning around 1.5km from another body discovered yesterday at the banks of the Batang Lupar river, belonged to a man.

The five Malaysians aboard the Eurocopter AS350 were Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister and Sungai Besar MP Datuk Noriah Kasnon, whose body was found yesterday; her husband, Asmuni Abdullah; the ministry’s secretary-general, Datuk Dr Sundaran Annamalai; Kuala Kangsar MP and Malaysian Palm Oil Board chairman Datuk Wan Mohammad Khairil Anuar Wan Ahmad; and bodyguard Ahmad Sobri Harun. The pilot Captain Rudolf Rex Ragas was a Filipino.

The helicopter crashed Thursday enroute from Betong to Kuching during campaigning for today’s Sarawak state election. – MMO