Lost Singaporeans found 4.2km from trail
Singaporean duo lost on Malaysia mountain found after three days
It usually takes only three hours to find hikers lost on Gunung Pulai, a mountain in Johor's Kulai district.
But when Singaporeans Dominick Tan Chang Xiang and Lum Jie, both 27, were reported missing on the mountain last Monday at around 5.55pm, it took three days to find them.
They were found yesterday at around 11.30am near a body of water.
This is the longest search-and-rescue operation in the area to date, Kulai Fire Department chief and head of the search operations Mohd Khairi Zainudin told The New Paper yesterday.
He said the search area was expanded from 36 sq km to 63 sq km. The number of search-and-rescue personnel also increased from around 20 to nearly 100, and two rescue dogs were involved.
The lost hikers were eventually spotted from a helicopter.
Mr Khairi told TNP: "I think maybe they were trying to explore a new place. They were found about 3km away from their last reported location and 4.2km away from the trail."
He said the rescued duo were visibly exhausted. They have since been discharged from Pontian Hospital.
Over the last three days, at least seven rescue teams, including volunteer groups, had worked round the clock to find them.
Malaysian volunteer team Mountain Search and Rescue Society Malaysia toiled all night on Tuesday.
The team's contact officer, Ms Dhereza Abdul Hamid, 39, told TNP: "We are so happy to hear (they have been found)."
Her team of volunteers specialises in search-and-rescue operations in mountains and jungles all over Malaysia.
Mr Vijay Kumar, 36, was part of a rescue team from Thousand Adventure, a Malaysian climbing group.
Singaporean volunteers joined them in the search.
He told TNP: "That part where they were found is not easy to access. No routes are available there.
"In that area, there are too many obstacles. Some places are a steep climb, and there are some river crossings. There are parts where we have to climb down a vertical wall face too."
Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in a Facebook post yesterday thanked the Malaysian authorities and all those involved in the search-and rescue-operations.
He said: "We are very grateful to the Malaysian agencies, especially Johor chief of police Datuk Mohd Khalil, the Johor police and Kulai Fire Department, who have worked tirelessly for almost four days on this operation.
"My utmost gratitude also to the scores of volunteers from both Malaysia and Singapore who helped in the search."
In his Facebook post, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was "relieved" the Singaporeans had been found.
"My heartfelt thanks to Polis Johor chief Datuk Mohd Khalil, Kulai Fire Department chief Mohd Khairi Zainudin, their teams, as well as the Singapore team on the ground, for their efforts in this operation," he said.
Precautions to take before going on a hike
Mr Vijay Kumar, 36, a member of adventure group SGTrek Expeditions and Adventures, who was involved in the Johor search and rescue operation, shared some hiking safety tips:
BEFORE THE HIKE:
- Inform someone where you will be
- Know the trail and timings - how long the hike will take, what time it will end and when you will return
- Register with the local authorities
- Know map and exit points of trail
- Have emergency rescue contacts
- Stay calm and check your supplies
- If you are not far from the trail, return to it and stay there
- If you are not sure where to go, wait on the trail until someone rescues you. Do not wander off on your own
- If far from the trail, use your phone to check the location, and try to reach higher ground to see where you are and for better GPS signal and phone connection
- Before calling for help, check surrounding landmarks to make it easier for rescuers to find you, and stay where you are
- SUE-ANN TAN