Singapore— Although two Singaporean kayakers have been missing in Malaysia since August 8, their relatives are holding on to the hope the search teams will find them alive.
Fifty-seven-year-old Tan Eng Soon and 62-year-old Puah Geok Tin went kayaking in a group with 13 other Singaporeans at the Endau islands on August 8, but the pair’s bright green double kayak got separated from the group at one point.
Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says its consulate in Johor Bahru is communicating closely with authorities in Malaysia, and that “A team from our Consulate-General is currently on the ground to provide assistance and close support,” CNA reports.
The families of the missing kayakers remain hopeful, with the niece of Ms Puah comparing her level of fitness to British adventurer, survival instructor and TV personality Bear Grylls.
Business Insider reports Jen Pan as saying “My aunt is not your typical auntie. She’s like a female version of Bear Grylls.”
Ms Puah is apparently a fitness aficionado who participates in several sports such as cycling, rock climbing and dragon boating.
Ms Jen, who along with other family members waited at Penyabong jetty for news of the missing pair, said Ms Puah is “very fit.”
She was confident that her aunt will live through the incident. “She’s super strong, physically and mentally… She can survive this.”
The area where authorities are searching for the missing kayakers is 3,000 square kilometers, roughly four times Singapore’s size.
On Sunday, an aircraft in the search and rescue (SAR) operation covered 500 nautical square miles and by Monday, another 600 square nautical miles from east of Rompin on Peninsular Malaysia to the north of Tioman had also been searched.
The director of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, First Admiral Aminuddin Abdul Rashid, announced that 104 people have been deployed to search for Mr Tan and Ms Puah. Helicopters have also combed over 500 nautical miles for the missing kayakers.
To date, four helicopters, one aeroplane, two ships – including one from the Royal Malaysian Navy —and five boats have been involved in searching for Mr Tan and Ms Puah, and fishermen and commercial vessels have also been alerted to keep their eyes open for the missing kayakers.
The teams searched for nearly 12 hours, from 7:30 am to 7:00 pm, despite the rains and monsoon winds.
Rough waters and strong winds caused the kayakers to be separated from the rest of the group in the Endau waters in Mersing on the evening of August 8. Their companions filed a police report and a search and rescue team was deployed to start looking for Ms Puah and Mr Tan by the mid-afternoon of August 9th.
While some Singaporeans have returned home, four of Ms Puah’s friends remain in Malaysia, waiting for news of the kayakers.
The group only noticed that something had gone wrong after going ashore at Pulau Mertang Timur. One member of the group said that the wind was so strong that even if a whistle had been blown, they may not have heard it.
At around 6:00 pm on August 8 they realized that the two were missing, and guide and organizer Goh Khee Wei arranged for a speedboat to look for Mr Tan and Ms Puah, but ended the search by 8:00 pm when it got too dark./ TISG