It was meant to be a leisurely day for the whole family to celebrate Chinese New Year, but it sadly ended in tragedy. While swimming in Kelantan beach in Malaysia, five members of a family suddenly perished. The lifeless bodies of the family who drowned during a picnic were found over the weekend.
The bodies of four family members — Yazul Bahari Yacob, 46; Yusnina Yacob, 38; Yasmin Nor Aliza Yazul Bahari and Zufika Suhaimi, both aged 10 — were found on Saturday, 17 February.
Reports say they drowned at around 10 a.m. on 16 February.
Local fishermen later found the body of the five-year-old boy, Khaizuran Waliyuddin Suhaimi, on the morning of 18 February.
Family who drowned during a picnic might have been tourists unfamiliar with unsafe areas of the beach
According to reports, Pantai Tok Bali in Pasir Puteh, which is part of the project site for the Tok Bali Supply Base, is an unsafe area for swimming. Though locals know about this, the family might have been tourists visiting the area.
“The geological surface here is very uneven. The water can be waist high at one point, and can suddenly run deep in the next. The sand is also unusually soft here,” Pasir Puteh Deputy Superintendent of Police Abdul Rozak Mohamad said, according to CNA.
The tragedy has prompted local authorities to put up clear warnings to the public in order to prevent similar accidents from happening.
The tragedy of the family who drowned during a picnic highlights importance of ocean safety
When heading to the beach, it’s important to know the geography of the area. Remember: No two beaches are exactly the same. And beaches change over time. Even if you have visited the place before, the landscape could have changed over time.
The waters might have deepened; what once was the shallow end can suddenly break into deeper waters, depending on how soft the sand has become over the years.
It helps to know the present situation, as well as how to adjust to the varying tides in the region.
- Even if you’re going for a quick dip, make sure everyone knows how to swim.
- Make sure kids have floating devices and that they stay within arm’s reach at all times.
- Do not swim alone, even if you are confident in your abilities.
- Follow the lifeguard’s instructions. If there is no lifeguard in the area, do not swim.
- Be cautious even when having fun.
- When in doubt, don’t go out into the water.
What is a rip tide and how can you spot them?
Riptides can be narrow or wide and they can reach speeds of up to eight feet per second!
Aside from the unexpected depth of waters, there is the possibility of rip currents. These are strong currents that can suddenly pull people away from the shore into deeper waters.
What’s dangerous about these currents is that they are quite common all around the world, especially in surf beaches. And it’s not always easy to break free once caught in a rip tide.
Here are some signs to watch out for:
- If you spot a churning, choppy channel of water, then a rip tide is imminent.
- Beware of a line of foam, debris or seaweed moving out into the water.
- Breaks in the waves flowing toward the shore could signal rip currents!
If you are caught in a rip tide or current:
- Stay calm and don’t fight it.
- To escape the current, swim in a direction following the shoreline.
- Once you have escaped, swim towards shore at an angle.
- If you can no longer swim, shout for help or wave your arms.
To rescue someone caught in a rip tide: get help from the lifeguard or yell instructions on how to swim away from the tide. You can also throw an object that floats to the person in need of rescue.
*photos above for representation purposes only
Sources: Channel News Asia, AsiaOne, New Straits Times, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
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