KOTA KINABALU – Police on Monday arrested three people, including a boat owner, over the capsize of a catamaran ferrying Chinese tourists to Pulau Mengalum last Saturday.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Ramli Din said the 44-year-old owner of the catamaran, a local ethnic Chinese was arrested here at about 4pm.
“Police found that the owner, who also doubles up as the manager, has breached procedures, including overloading the boat.
“Police will also investigate whether negligence led to the deaths of tourists,” he said at a press conference here.
Twenty tourists were rescued, three were found dead and four are still missing after the catamaran carrying 27 Chinese tourists and three crew capsized at about 10am last Saturday while heading for Pulau Mengalum from the Tanjung Aru jetty here.
Two, of the three crew, have been rescued and they, along with the boat owner, are being remanded until Feb 2 to help in the investigation into the mishap.
Ramli also said that the number of Chinese tourists in the catamaran was 27 and not 28 as reported earlier because one tourist, Li Qun, 33, and his family registered for the trip but did not get on board seeing that the boat was already crowded.
Li Qun’s name was still on the manifest but the names of his family members had been removed, he explained.
Ramli said the search was going on for the four missing tourists and one crew.
However, he added, police would verify whether there were any other tourists who did not board the boat after registering for the trip.
Ramli said three teams had been set up with regard to the incident.
One team would probe a report of sudden death, while the second would act as a liaison body with one police officer to handle the welfare of one victim.
The third was a special team under the Sabah Police Criminal Investigation Department to probe any element of negligence that could have led to deaths, under Section 304A of the Penal Code, he said.
On the 20 tourists who were rescued, Ramli said 12 of them were in stable condition but exhausted, and the other eight suffered burns, peeling skin and swollen legs and had difficulty walking.
All of them were under treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here, he added.
On the three dead tourists, he said post-mortem had been conducted on two of the bodies.
The catamaran carrying the 27 tourists and three crew was hit by strong winds and huge waves an hour after it departed the Tanjung Aru jetty at about 9am for Pulau Mengalum, a tourist destination 56km northwest of Kota Kinabalu.
Twenty tourists and two crew were rescued in the waters of Semarang near Labuan and three tourists were found dead.