The white SUV that was plunged into the sea from the Penang Bridge was finally recovered yesterday (23 January) and it was heartbreaking to see the wreckage for anyone who was at the scene. It was reported that the victim, Moey Yun Peng still had his seat belt on with his hand holding the door handle, presumably trying to escape from the sinking car until the very last moment.
To prevent such tragedy from happening again, director of the Penang Fire and Rescue Department, Saadon Mokhtar taught members of the public how to get out from a sinking car during an interview with Oriental Daily.
Saadon said most cars wouldn’t sink immediately after falling into the water and it is critical for all passengers to get out of the car before it’s fully submerged.
“If the driver is still conscious, he/she must find a way to break the window to escape from the vehicle. Every vehicle has headrests on the seats that can be used to break the window,” he said.
He added that once the car is partially submerged in the water, it’d be difficult to open the door due to the pressure from the exterior that’s exerted by water. Hence, it’s crucial for the drivers to keep calm and conserve their energy to plan for the next move. Sadly, there’s very little that can be done if the drivers have become unconscious as a result of the accident.
Responding to the criticism hurled towards the search and rescue (SAR) team, the director clarified that the divers had to operate under pitch black condition where the visibility was incredibly poor.
“Due to the water pressure, each frogman with full gear can only dive as deep as 30 metres for not more than five minutes. This is why 40 frogmen had to take turns to dive 15 metres into the sea and they could only stay there for about 20 minutes,” the director said.
The strong undercurrents also complicated the operation, which put the frogmen at great risk. One of the frogmen revealed that the front of the SUV was embedded in the muddy seabed, which made it hard for the body to be retrieved.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family and we salute the SAR team for risking their lives and working tirelessly in this operation.