Update: Singaporean confirmed dead in US dive ship fire
Wei Tan loved scuba diving, and got her diving licence at the age of 17, says sister
UPDATE: The Singaporean woman, who was onboard the recreational scuba diving vessel that caught fire off the coast of California, is confirmed dead, her sister told The New Paper on Friday (Sept 6).
Ms Cheerin Tan, 29, told TNP DNA samples confirmed her sister Ms Wei Tan, 26, had died on the boat.
Ms Wei Tan had just completed her postgraduate studies in the University of California (UC), Berkeley.
On Thursday, Ms Cheerin Tan, had said in a Facebook post her sister was on the vessel.
She had written: "It is with great sadness I announce the passing of my beloved little sister, Wei Tan."
The business insights analyst at Apple in Singapore told The New Paper last night that the family was aware of her sister's scuba-diving trip to the Channel Islands on the 23m Conception, a well-known dive vessel in California.
TNP reported yesterday that Singaporean research scientist Sunil Singh Sandhu, 46, was feared to be among the 34 people killed after fire broke out on the boat while it was moored off Santa Cruz Island on Monday at 3.15am (6.15pm Singapore time).
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) confirmed yesterday that the two Singaporeans were on the Conception's passenger manifest.
All but one of the burnt bodies have been recovered and are being identified with a DNA analysis tool typically used in war zones.
Ms Cheerin Tan said she, her sister and their brother, Mr Sejay Tan, 31, shared a love for diving.
She told TNP that her sister got her diving licence when she was 17.
The family members were in close contact until the eve of the fire.
Mr Tan then realised something was amiss when his text messages were not delivered to Ms Wei Tan.
Ms Cheerin Tan said: "We were all prepared for the worst after reading about the news. My brother was the one who found out about it, just hours after it happened on Monday.
"It's painful, but we really have to move on. She has lived her life to the fullest."
She added that she reached out to MFA for assistance, and was given an emergency contact.
She said on her Facebook post that they are waiting for DNA testing to be completed.
Mr Tan is now in Santa Barbara to handle all paperwork and arrangements, she added.
Ms Cheerin Tan told TNP that the family is healing well, with support from relatives and friends.
She said: "We will get through it, but it's the hardest on my brother because he is the only kin there. We are glad that her boyfriend and close friend are accompanying him during this time."
Her sister had been working as a data scientist for four months in Santa Barbara, after her postgraduate studies in UC Berkeley's College of Engineering, she added.
Mr Sandhu's father, Mr Sojit Singh, 77, told TNP on Wednesday that the family found out only two months ago that the long-time US resident had taken up scuba diving.
Like Ms Wei Tan, Mr Sandhu studied in the US and did his master's and PhD at Stanford University before becoming a research scientist in Palo Alto.
When TNP visited the family in their Geylang condominium unit yesterday, relatives were streaming in to give their condolences.
Mr Singh told TNP he saw the news of the ship fire on television on Monday but had no idea his son was one of the victims.
The retiree said: "My son was dying right before my eyes and I did not have a clue. It feels like my world is gone. Why must he be taken away from me?"
His elder daughter, Madam Geetajeet Kaur Sandhu, 48, said her brother had a mischievous character growing up, but had a big heart for others.
The accountant added: "I won't be surprised if he helped others before himself when the fire broke out.
"I am hoping that he turns up at our doorstep and tells me that this is all a prank. He's playful like that.
"We are still hoping for a miracle. I miss his calls and our long talks. I could talk to him about anything."