Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Kampar Tragedy

2009/10/27 - NST Online

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 last night as pupils participating in a camp were crossing it.

The two pupils have been identified as Diryasree a/p Vasudevan, 12, of Sekolah RendahKebangsaan 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 today.

Abdul Aziz said the Kampar River was swift-flowing but the rescuers would continue with their search until they found the two girls.

Source - NST Online

I visited the families of Dina Deve a/p Nathan and Davadharshini a/p Maheswaran last night. Initially I was reluctant to go because at times like this, visiting politicians are more of a nuisance then help.

What could I possibly do or say to the devastated parents that could alleviate their pain or bring any sort of comfort? After much thought, I decided to go; as a person and a father.

I remember being comforted by the presence of friends and well-wishers, even strangers, when I lost my mum.

It was raining when we visited Dina Deve's house. And there was a blackout. It was a reflection of how all of us felt inside; dark and suffocated.

A child in a coffin ... words just can't describe the sorrow of it. And yet she looked serene, just like she was sleeping.

The parents of Davadharshini were inconsolable. Davadharshini was still missing at the time of the visit. One is at a loss as to whether to offer words of comfort or to brace them for the worst.

In a tragedy like this, a string of human errors or negligence must have occurred before mother nature took its toll.

We paid it with the lives of someone's children.

I am sure all parties, irrespective of their political affiliations do not want to see the repeat this incident under a different name, at a different time and a different place.

Today it is the daughters of Vasudevan, Maheswaran and Nathan. Tomorrow it could be your or my child.

Lets do what is right.

Lets not take safety and safety measures for granted. Lets stop cutting corners and take the easy way out. Lets pay heed to mother nature and her warnings.

Let the finger-pointing wait.

For now, lets join in prayers for Dina Deve, Davadharshini, Diryasree and their families. Lets be thankful for the brave security guard that pulled many children out of the river and other unnamed heroes like him.

Murugesan Sinnandavar