Selangor Journal
Emergency personnel work at the site of a helicopter crash in Lumut, Perak, on April 23, 2024. — Picture by REUTERS via FIRE AND RESCUE DEPARTMENT OF MALAYSIA

Nation mourns tragic helicopter crash

KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — Malaysia was shocked yesterday by an air tragedy as two helicopters crashed following a mid-air collision over the Royal Malaysian Navy (TLDM) base in Lumut, Perak earlier in the morning, claiming the lives of all 10 crew members on board.

The heart-wrenching tragedy marked the worst helicopter crash in the country since nine years ago and the eighth incident to occur within the same period.

The deadliest helicopter accident prior to this occurred on May 5, 2016, when a Eurocopter AS350 helicopter crashed near Sebuyau, Sarawak, claiming six lives, including the then deputy plantation industries and commodities minister Tan Sri Noriah Kasnon and Kuala Kangsar MP Datuk Wan Mohammad Khair-il Anuar Wan Ahmad.

In yesterday’s tragedy at 9.32am, TLDM confirmed the death of 10 of its personnel, involving seven crew members of the Maritime Operations Helicopter (HOM-AW139) and three crew members of the TLDM Fennec.

Perak police chief Datuk Seri Mohd Yusri Hassan Basri said the HOM-AW139 helicopter crashed on the TLDM Lumut Stadium field, while the Fennec aircraft crashed into the TLDM Lumut Sports Complex swimming pool. All the families of the victims have been informed for identification purposes.

The post-mortem for the victims is currently underway at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital (HRPB) in Ipoh, after they were recovered from the two aircraft wreckage sites earlier yesterday.

According to HRPB deputy medical director (I) Dr Liaw Kok Toon, the post-mortem process is expected to be completed by noon today.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the two helicopters were undergoing a rehearsal for the third time in conjunction with the Royal Malaysian Navy Fleet Open Day scheduled for this Saturday.

He said the 10 victims were based in Lumut and Kota Kinabalu, adding that TLDM will set up an investigation board to identify the cause of the incident.

Condolence messages

His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, expressed his sadness and conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims.

In a Facebook post, Sultan Ibrahim ordered the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) to conduct a thorough investigation to get full information on the incident.

“I and Raja Zarith are deeply saddened by the loss of our nation’s heroes in this tragedy. Al-Fatihah and our heartfelt condolences over their passing,” His Majesty said.

Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, meanwhile, consented to the cancellation of the Royal Malaysian Navy’s (TLDM) 90th Anniversary celebrations and parade, which was scheduled for this Friday.

According to a post uploaded on the Selangor Royal Office Facebook page yesterday, a Yasin recital, tahlil and ‘doa selamat’ will be held at the An-Nur Mosque at the TLDM base in Lumut before Friday prayers and Sultan Sharafuddin, as TLDM Captain-in-Chief, is expected to attend the event.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, in his Facebook post, said the nation mourns the heart-wrenching tragedy.

Anwar said the tragedy had deeply affected the MAF family and was a great loss for the country, besides extending his condolences to all the families of the victims and praying that they would be given strength in facing the tragedy.

“I have been informed that an immediate investigation will be conducted by the Defence Ministry, especially TLDM, to determine the cause of the accident,” said the prime minister.

Respect families’ sensitivities

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof hopes that no one will speculate on the incident.

Fadillah, who is also the energy transition and water transformation minister, said all parties also need to respect the victims’ families by refraining from sharing any images and video clips of the incident.

Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil also shared the same sentiment and advised media practitioners and the public against circulating the video clips of the tragedy out of respect for the relatives and families of the victims involved in the crash as the clips would affect them.

“I will ask the MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) to study and if need be take whatever as required as with any crash we need to give space for family members and not to spread the videos,” he told reporters at Wisma Bernama yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and several menteris besar, including Perak’s Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad, Johor’s Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi, Pahang’s Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail, Kedah’s Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, Terengganu’s Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar and Kelantan’s Datuk Mohd Nasuruddin Daud also conveyed their condolences.

The 10 TLDM crew members killed in the crash include Squadron 502 commanding officer Commander Muhamad Amir Mohamad; Lieutenant T Sivasutan (Squadron 502 pilot) and Warrant Officer  II Mohd Shahrizan Mohd Termizi (Squadron 502 Air Quartermaster).

Others killed were Squadron 503 Commanding Officer Commander Muhammad Firdaus Ramli; Lt Commander Wan Rezaudeen Kamal Zainal Abidin; Squadron 503 Air Tactical Officer, Lt Commander Mohammad Amirulfaris Mohd Marzukhi; and Squadron 503 Air Quartermaster Warrant Officer II Muhammad Faisol Tamadun.

The three women killed in the collision were Able Seaman I Joanna Felicia anak Rohna from the TLDM Air Base, Warrant Officer II Norfarahimi Saedy (West Armada Supply Depot) as well as Petty Officer Nor Rahiza Anuar (West Armada Supply Depot).

— Bernama

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