All 45 passengers and crew on board an Indonesia-flagged ferry which had run aground in Singapore waters late on Monday night have been rescued by the Police Coast Guard.
Crew Commander Lee Kuan Seng, 37, of PT78, one of three Police Coast Guard vessels activated for the rescue at the southern tip of Pulau Tekong, said the operation was a tricky one as the ferry, Sri Kandi 99, was at risk of capsizing and visibility was low.
"The closeness to shore meant that we too ran a risk of being grounded ourselves," he added.
He and his crew of five, using night-vision technology and searchlights, found that five people were stuck in the ferry, which was listing to one side.
Mr Lee said: "We carefully aligned our vessel to theirs, so that these five individuals, who did not know how to swim, could simply walk over to our vessel."
Meanwhile, the other two rescue vessels were attending to 40 of the ferry's passengers and crew who had made it to shore.
The ferry was stranded near Pulau Tekong during low tide after it collided with rocks near the island.
It was carrying one Vietnamese and 33 Malaysian passengers and 11 Indonesian crew members.
Police Coast Guard Emergency Medical Technician Syed Abu Bakar, 38, said two men had light injuries - one had a neck abrasion and another a bruise on his right thigh.
However, due to the shock and the cold, some were crying and shivering. "But when we told them who we were, and that they were in safe hands, they really calmed down. We were able to distribute water and some rations while waiting for a vessel to pick them up."
The ferry was making a return trip from Panama-registered passenger cruise liner Aegean Paradise, which was anchored south of Pengerang, Johor. The incident occurred during the short trip between the cruise liner and Pasir Gudang, Johor .
The passengers were subsequently transferred to another ferry, Camara Samudra, and arrived safely at Tanjong Pengelih, Johor, at 5.15am yesterday.
The crew members are assisting with investigations.