Singaporean man who drowned off Batam 'should not have been on barge'

A Singaporean man who died when a semi-submersible barge sank while being tried out off Batam should not have been on board, his family said yesterday.

Mr Terence Chew Zhi Wei, 31, worked in marketing for Pacc Offshore Services Holdings, which was conducting a submerging trial of the cargo barge last Friday, two nautical miles north-east of the Indonesian port of Sekupang.

The company said in a statement that the Posh Mogami barge "tilted unexpectedly, resulting in the flooding of the control room compartment" at 9.45pm. It added that there was no cargo on board at the time.

Mr Chew, a non-swimmer, drowned along with two colleagues - Myanmar national Ye Myint Myat, 33, and Chinese national Shen Ming Ming, 27.

Pacc said a safety briefing was conducted before the trial and all nine people on board were given life jackets and walkie-talkies.

A family member who did not want to be named said Mr Chew should not have been on the barge because "he works in marketing and not in operations".

However, Pacc said: "Although Terence was not crew, he was there as an observer to familiarise himself with what the vessel could do as part of his marketing function."

The six others on board, including two other Singaporeans, were rescued by the Indonesian authorities and Pacc's divers, according to statements by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and Mr Chew's employer.

A Pacc representative visited Mr Chew's parents last Saturday afternoon and told them that their son was "missing".

"There were more than 40 of us... gathered in his parents' living room, waiting for news," said Mr Chew's youngest aunt, who did not want to be named.

"Terence was very filial to us and a role model for my children. I remember when my son was 13 and he was starting to rebel. It was Terence who spoke to him and counselled him."

Another family member said: "Terence never gave us any problems when he was growing up. During his university days, he would earn his own allowance by taking up part-time jobs."

Family members who were at the wake at Block 126A Kim Tian Road yesterday told The Straits Times that Mr Chew was a "pillar of support" for his loved ones. He was supposed to hold his wedding dinner next year after registering his marriage two years ago.

The company is investigating the accident.

awcw@sph.com.sg

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