GUA MUSANG • Two Malaysian aboriginal children missing in the jungles of Kelantan were found alive yesterday in a malnourished state, 47 days after they and five others ran away from school to evade punishment for going for a swim without permission.
Search parties earlier this week found the bodies of two children in the forests, after weeks of futile search that was closely followed by the Malaysian media.
The seven Orang Asli children, comprising six girls and a boy aged between seven and 11, were believed to have lost their way in the Tohoi forest reserve in remote Kelantan after running away from the Pos Tohoi village school on Aug 23.
NO SURVIVAL SKILLS
No, they do not have any survival skills... They are primary school children and live in the boarding school. So they learn everything from here.
KELANTAN ORANG ASLI VILLAGE NETWORK YOUTH CHIEF DENDI JOHARI, on the children who went missing
The two survivors have been identified as Norieen Yakob, 10, and Mirsudial Aluj, 11.
The girls were malnourished and could not even stand up, after having depended on river water and forest fruits for survival, Berita Harian Malaysia reported yesterday.
A reporter with The Star who was present at the rescue said one the two girls told her that she wants to eat chicken, fried rice and orange. The girl, "almost looking like a skeleton", was put on a drip.
Medical staff rendered immediate health assistance to the two before they were taken to the Gua Musang hospital at 2pm yesterday.
On Wednesday, the body of a child was found beside a river in the forests.
It was later confirmed to be that of eight-year-old Sasa Sobrie. Her mother, Ms Amek Alang, 25, recognised the earrings found on the remains of the girl.
"My heart just sank when I saw the earrings," said Ms Amek, as quoted by the New Straits Times newspaper on Thursday. "I'd recognise those earrings anywhere."
Gua Musang Hospital said a post-mortem found that the girl died one to two weeks ago.
On Thursday, a villager stumbled upon the skeletal remains of another child. The body, which has not been identified, was found about 500m from Pos Tohoi, the village that the children ran away from.
An Orang Asli community leader last week said that unlike earlier generations of the indigenous people of Malaysia who made a living foraging the forests, these children do not have any skills to survive in the jungles.
"No, they do not have any survival skills," Kelantan Orang Asli Village Network youth chief Dendi Johari told The Malaysian Insider.
"They are primary school children and live in the boarding school. So they learn everything from here."
He added: "When they are home, the parents only take them to the farm."
The other four children who are missing are Juvina David, seven; Linda Rosli, eight; Ika Ayel, nine; and a boy Haikal Yaakob, eight.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK