27 October, 2009

Girl drowns, 2 children missing in river

How could the organisers of a camp in Kuala Dipang near here, allow 30 to 50 pupils to get on a narrow suspension bridge over a river that is swift-flowing and deep enough to be treacherous?

As can be expected of children in such a situation, some were jumping and shaking the bridge when they were crossing it at 10.30pm last night, according to witnesses.

The groups of pupils were walking across from the campsite to Sekolah Kebangsaan Kuala Dipang for their dinner or walking back after they had eaten. They were among 298 pupils from 60 primary schools in Kampar, Tronoh and Batu Gajah who were participating in a 1Malaysia camp organised by the Kinta Selatan District Education Department.

Witnesses said there was a lot of swaying just before the newly-built narrow bridge collapsed. It happened because the metal pole holding one end of the rope bridge had been ripped off its base. One schoolgirl, identified as Dina Deve Nathan, 11, drowned. Two other girls were still missing.

The part of Kampar River where the bridge collapsed is about 30 metres wide and 1.5 metres deep.

Police, firefighters and emergency services personnel scoured the Kampar River in northern Malaysia where the students went missing late Monday,Perak state Chief Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir said.

"They are looking for the bodies,", he said.

The two-week-old bridge was built to replace an old one that had fallen apart with age,

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin told reporters that Education director-general Alimuddin Mohd Dom will head a team to probe the fatal collapse of the suspension bridge.

Muhyiddin, who is also education minister said the ministry would give a bereavement donation of RM10,000 to Dina's family.

The search and rescue operation following the collapse of a suspension bridge across the Kampar River at a school in Kuala Dipang near here has been extended 15 kilometres downriver.

Kampar police chief Supt Abdul Aziz Salleh said the rescuers were looking for two primary schoolgirls who went missing after the bridge collapsed at 10.30pm Monday as pupils participating in a camp were crossing it.

The two pupils have been identified as Diryasree a/p Vasudevan, 12, of Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Tamil (SJKT) Gopeng and Davadharshini a/p Maheswaran, 11, of SJKT Mambang Di Awan near here.

Another schoolgirl of SJKT Mambang Di Awan, Dina Deve a/p Nathan, 11, drowned in the incident. Her body was recovered from the river at 8.40am Tuesday.

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