KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A leadership programme at an idyllic resort for 120 students in Malaysia went horribly wrong when three schoolboys drowned while trekking along a man-made stream in the area.
Hafiz Hamizan Rahman and Daniel Norman, both 16, as well as Khuzaimi Zakaran, 17, were with their group, including teachers, when they went slightly off the designated route and slipped into a deeper part of the stream.
A girl, who also slipped, was rescued by other students during the incident on Saturday (April 29).
The three boys were pulled out of the stream by the teachers and fellow students, but it was believed that they were unconscious.
The leadership programme and camping trip was organised by SMK Putatan at the Eco Lake Resort in Membakut, located some 90km from Kota Kinabalu.
The 120 students and 30 teachers were divided into 10 groups before the trek.
Beaufort Fire and Rescue Department chief Runzee Abd Thani said based on information gathered, the boys were with their group members and teachers trekking along the thigh-deep stream.
The students and teachers were supposed to complete their treks in groups and return to the resort for other activities.
They were supposed to walk along the riverside. However, four students accidentally slipped on a slope which had culvert pipes, he said.
Runzee said the girl, who was with them also slipped and fell into the deeper part of the stream, but her friends managed to pull her out.
He added that the three boys were found unconscious by their teachers and were rushed separately to the Beaufort Hospital and Membakut clinic where they were pronounced dead.
Danial's father Norisham Purah, 51, said his son had asked him on Thursday to go for the trip.
"We had planned a family outing to Tenom and I was reluctant to let him go.
"But Danial was insistent as he loved the outdoors, I gave him permission with a heavy heart," he said when met at the Beaufort Hospital to claim his son's body.
The family received the news of the tragedy while preparing for their Tenom trip.
Danial is the youngest among seven of Norisham's children.
Meanwhile, Runzee advised resort operators and teachers involved in similar programmes to inform the authorities, including firemen, prior to their trips.
"We will provide a briefing on the safety aspects that need to be followed to prevent future mishaps," he added.