Kayak found 148km away, but Singaporean pair still missing
Missing woman's son feels discovery of kayak is 'not positive news' but her husband hopeful she is safe
The bright green double kayak and personal items belonging to two missing Singaporean kayakers were yesterday found in the waters off Kuantan in the Malaysian state of Pahang, some 148km from where they were last seen.
The whereabouts of businesswoman Puah Geok Tin, 57, and retired lawyer Tan Eng Soon, 62, are still not known as the search and rescue (SAR) operation enters its sixth day today.
"It is definitely mixed feelings," Madam Puah's son, Mr Louis Pang, 23, told The New Paper from Penyabong Jetty in Endau, Johor, last night.
"It's like we found a clue in the big vast sea, but this clue is not positive news, knowing all their belongings are inside (the kayak).
"So as optimistic as we want to be, realistically, it is not quite positive," he added.
In a statement yesterday, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA)'s Johor director First Admiral (Maritime) Aminuddin Abdul Rashid said the kayak was spotted at about 12.30pm by local fishermen about 0.6 nautical miles (1.1km) south-east of Tanjung Gelang, which is close to Kuantan Port.
This is about 148km from where the pair were reported to have gone missing at about 5.40pm last Thursday while kayaking with 13 others from Singapore around the Endau islands.
Mr Aminuddin said the recovered items included two wallets containing Malaysian and Singaporean currencies, a mobile phone, Mr Tan's passport, a clothes bag, an identification card and a paddle.
The Straits Times reported that the kayak was found upside down in open water and was towed to shore by a local fisherman.
Mr Tan's bag held his mobile phone and wallet, which had cash and his PAssion card.
The families of the missing Singaporeans were alerted to the discovery when the fisherman used Mr Tan's phone to contact his family via a WhatsApp chat group.
The fisherman also sent them pictures of the kayak and the belongings. The belongings were later sent to the families at Penyabong Jetty for identification. As of press time, they had yet to reach the families.
Mr Pang, who is keeping vigil with his father, Mr Peng Mun Kit, said: "(I am) definitely trying to stay strong... I'm truly thankful to know there are so many kind people out there praying and giving blessings to my mummy."
Mr Peng, 56, was hopeful the discovery of the kayak could mean that his wife is safe somewhere.
He told The Straits Times: "Everybody is a bit happy now. At least we know where the kayak ended up, which means the two of them could be around the area... And it's near Kuantan on the coastline. The chances of (them) landing on an island or beach is high."
He said he knew the kayak belonged to his wife and Mr Tan when he saw the photo of it, and recognised a bag that she took on the trip.
The pair had tied their bags together and packed them into the front compartment of the kayak, where they were found.
"It was intact. Everything was intact," Mr Peng told ST.
Yesterday, 122 personnel were deployed in the search, up from 104 on Monday.
Several vessels and helicopters from various agencies were also involved in the search for the missing kayakers.
MMEA's Mersing zone commander Haris Fadzillah Abdullah said the air search area remained at 900 square nautical miles, stretching from east and north of Tioman island, while the sea search would cover 600 square nautical miles from the east of Rompin to the north of Tioman.
In addition, fishermen and residents in the nearby islands were also assisting in the search at sea as well as along the coast, Malaysia's national news agency Bernama reported.
The five-day kayaking trip over the National Day weekend had been organised by Mr Goh Khee Wei, who was also the guide for the group.
Chinese-language newspaper Shin Min Daily News reported that the Malaysian police have asked Mr Goh to assist with their investigations into the incident. He declined to comment when approached.