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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I saw croc drag him in: Colleague

A plywood factory foreman was seen dragged into the murky water of Sungai Bako by a crocodile and was still missing as at press time yesterday.

TRAUMATISED: A visibly shaken Farizan (left) recounts the incident to reporters. At third left is Sharizal.

Identified only as Pak Jono, an Indonesian in his 40s, the victim was with two fellow workers looking for fish in the stream behind the plywood factory at Demak Laut Lorong 7 when the incident happened around 11am.

According to one of the workers, Farizan Gom, 31, the group was standing waist-deep in the river when he saw the head of a crocodile suddenly lunging up from beneath the water and grabbing hold of the left side of Pak Jono’s stomach before dragging him under.

“The incident was so sudden that Pak didn’t even scream. I was only about two feet away from him when it happened. I saw the croc drag him in,” said a visibly shaken Farizan, who hails from Kota Samarahan and has only been working at the factory for two months.

He immediately made his way to the river bank together with the other co-worker, 18-year-old Sharizan Rahman, and stood there scanning the water in the hope of seeing the foreman surfacing.

“We saw the croc surfaced momentarily at the other end of the river bank with what looked like one of Pak’s yellow rubber boots in its mouth before it disappeared underwater again,” said Sharizan, who too appeared shaken.

After that, the duo said they saw the reptile, which they described as ‘fairly large’, surfaced two more times further upriver before losing sight of it altogether.

Together with another worker, Jamadil Radat, 20, who was standing on the edge of the river bank at the time of the incident, the group rushed back to their quarters about 20 metres away and informed everyone of Pak Jono’s fate.

They then informed the factory owner, who contacted the police, before lodging a police report of the incident.

A police team led by officer-in-charge of Gita police station Chief Inspector Fauzan Abu Kassim arrived at the scene together with personnel from the Civil Defence Department, who proceeded to mount a search operation using two boats.

However, there was no sign of the victim as of yesterday evening.

When met after the incident yesterday, the victim’s wife Ramliedi, 42, said she never expected such a fate to befall her husband as he fished in the river many times during his five years of working at the factory.

The distraught woman revealed the couple has four children together, with the youngest only five years old.

She said her eldest son, 21, had only recently arrived in the city to look for work while her second son, 18, and a 13-year-old daughter are staying in Pontianak.

For Farizan, meanwhile, the experience of seeing a fellow worker being attacked by a crocodile right in front of his eyes has left him traumatised.

“It was my first time going into the river to look for fish, but it will certainly be the last,” he shuddered, while casting a wary eye towards the river.


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