KOTA KINABALU – A China tourist who registered for the ill-fated trip to Pulau Mengalum on the first day of the Chinese New Year pulled out at the last minute.
Sabah police commissioner Datuk Ramli Din said Monday that a glitch in their records meant that only 27 Chinese tourists boarded the catamaran last Saturday.
Ramli said that Li Qun, a 33-year-old and his family had registered but decided not to go on the day-long excursion.
“Our investigations found that one of those who signed up cancelled it because they said it was overloaded,” Ramli told a Press conference here Monday evening.
“However, even though his family was going, only his name was registered. This means, at the moment, we are searching for four Chinese tourists and one local crew member,” he said.
“Out of the 28, only 27 boarded the boat,” he added.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s Nanyang Post, is claiming that survivors had told reporters that two passengers out of the five who were still missing were dead.
This has yet to be confirmed by the authorities.
At an earlier Press conference by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, it said it has identified the six people who had gone missing.
Five of the missing are tourists from China and one is a local crew member, the MMEA said.
The tourists are Sheng Jiang Jiang (male, 50 years), Dong Mei (female, age not given), Li Qun (gender and age not given), Luo Hong Yuan (male, 51) and Lu Gua Hang (male, 25) while the crew is Absoy Kasim (male, age not given).
Twenty tourists and two crew were rescued and three tourists were found dead after the catamaran capsized at about 10am on Saturday when it was hit by strong winds and high waves an hour after leaving the Tanjung Aru jetty here for Pulau Mengalum, a tourist destination 56km northwest of Kota Kinabalu.
The MMEA also identified the third of the dead tourists as Xie Luo (male, 48). It had named the other two earlier as He Run Yuan (female, 46) and Zhang Xioa Kun (male, age not given).
Nanyang Post also reported that two survivors from the capsized catamaran, which sunk on its way to the island, spoke about their harrowing ordeal.
According the report, both lost an immediate family member in the mishap.
One of the survivors, identified as He, appeared exhausted and sad when he arrived at the Marine police jetty here just before 2am Monday.
“Laying next to me is my wife.
“When the boat capsized we were separated by the waves … she did not survive,” he said while sobbing.
Another survivor, Wei, told the Nanyang Post that his mother did not survive the ordeal.
“My mom is gone,” Wei said.