Malaysian air force plane crashes in Selangor, all on board survive but rescuer dies

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A small Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) plane has crashed near a beach in Kuala Selangor, with all the people on board surviving the incident, but a villager is believed to have drowned in the rescue.

The CN235 twin-engine aircraft reportedly left the Subang RMAF base on Friday (Feb 26) morning for a routine training session, but had to make an emergency landing near Pantai Asam Jawa at about 8.40am after issuing a mayday message about 10 minutes into the flight.

The crew, led by pilot Major Mohd Azri Yacob, 41, made an emergency landing in shallow waters in a swampy beach area near Taman Malawati Utama.

Rescuers checking the wreckage of the plane. PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A fire broke out in the mid-section of the light plane upon impact, with smoke that could be seen from a distance.

However, all eight army officers on board the plane managed to escape unharmed and were rescued by local fishermen here.

Co-pilot Major Ahmad Syazwan Mohammed, 32, broke his left arm during the incident, while the rest of the crew escaped without major injuries.

RMAF confirmed the incident in a statement, adding that an investigation team has been put together to probe the cause of the crash and to recover the debris of the aircraft.

However, Kuala Selangor district police chief Ruslan Abdullah said that a fisherman from a nearby village, drowned while trying to help the officers out of the CN235 aircraft.

He said that the fisherman, part of a group around the area at the time who rushed to give help, drowned because his foot got stuck in the mud.

"The remains of the elderly man have been sent to the Kuala Selangor district hospital," he said.

Police say the plane was downed due to a case of engine failure.

Those on the plane were Major Muhamed Afizan Jaafar, 32; Captain Nurul Azrie Rofdi, 32; Lieutenant Meor Ahmad Ali Meor Abdul Wahab, 26; Warrant Officer 2 Muhd Sayfull Neezam Abdul Manan, 35; Sergeant David Tonge, 35, and Sergeant Suhaila Pathil, 33.

The crew were taken to the Tanjong Karang Hospital and they were flown back to the Subang base.

"RMAF are investigating the cause of the accident and will remove the plane from the crash site, which has become stuck in the sand.

"It could take up to two days. The police and firemen will remain here to render any help to RMAF," Supt Ruslan said.

Taman Malawati Utama resident Zulkifli Mat Sakam, who lives about 500m from the crash site, said RMAF jets flying over his neighbourhood was a common sight.

"I was in my house at about eight in the morning when I heard a very strange noise - not an explosion but more like an object hitting the ground.

"Then I went out and I saw a lot of smoke coming from there.

"I was shocked when I heard it was a plane. They fly here every day - even when it is raining - and there have never been any accidents before," said the 36-year-old teacher.