In Brief

Six divers drown in ‘whirlpool’ during Malaysia rescue

Freak tragedy swept team into strong currents in disused mining pond

Six Malaysian rescue divers have lost their lives after being caught in a whirlpool while trying to rescue a teenage boy.

The fire and rescue service divers - all aged between 24 and 34 - were called to a disused mining pool in Taman Putra Perdana, south of Kuala Lumpur, on Wednesday evening after two teenagers reported that their friend had fallen into the water.

The 17-year-old “was said to have been fishing by the banks of the pond with two friends when he slipped and fell”, says Channel NewsAsia.

Sepang district police chief Assistant Commissioner Abdul Aziz Ali said that the divers were attached to a single line, in accordance with standard operating procedure, when the freak accident occurred.

“Suddenly a strong current occurred in the area, causing all victims to spin in the water, while all their equipment came off,” he said.

The six men “struggled in the water for about 30 minutes while other personnel tried to rescue them”, but lost consciousness before they could be pulled ashore, Channel NewsAsia reports. Despite first responders’ attempts to revive them, all six were pronounced dead at the scene.

Four of the victims  - Mohd Fatah Hashim, Izatul Akma Wan Ibrahim, Mazlan Omarbaki and Yahya Ali - belonged to the Port Klang Fire and Rescue station. The other two - Adnan Othman and Muhammad Hifdzul Malik Shaari - were members of the Shah Alam Fire and Rescue station.

Fire service chief Mohammad Hamdan Wahid told The Straits Times that “the remains would be taken to the Shah Alam Fire and Rescue station for a final tribute before being taken back to their respective hometowns for burial”.

He added that the accident was an unprecedented tragedy for the country’s fire service, which had never lost more than two personnel in any individual operation.

Despite the deaths, police confirmed that the search for the missing teenager would resume today.

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