By BORNEOTODAY REPORTERS
SEMPORNA: The last thing that Zhai Zhe, 26, and Qin Yiping, 28, had in mind when they went out kayaking around the Mabul Paradise resort on Friday evening, was they were soon to be the centre of unnecessary attraction.
The couple from China just wanted a peaceful time and left at 5.30pm, but when three and a half hours later when they did not return from their excursion, little did they know that alarm bells were raised.
Resort workers feared the worse and immediately informed security forces at 8pm.
What actually happened was their kayak ran aground on a coral reef some 500 metres away from the resort, and they were too tired to paddle back.
Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander, Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid in a statement Saturday said a search and rescue operation was mounted immediately after the alarm was raised.
“Semporna Marine Commanding Officer Assistant Superintendent Safardi Abd Samad directed two marine police boats at the island and one resort boat to bring eight policemen to search for the missing tourists,” he said.
“They searched for the couple around the resort and found them stranded at a coral site at about 9pm,” Wan Bari said.
“It turned out that the couple had become too exhausted to row back to the resort because of the low tide. Their kayak got stuck among the coral reefs due to the low tide and they could not return,” he added.
While commending the resort staff for their quick response in alerting the security forces that the duo were missing, Wan Bari advised all resort operators to prioritise safety aspects for their guests.
“We also emphasise that all activities (should be closely) monitored by resorts to ensure utmost security (for) tourists,” he stressed.