SINGAPORE - All 45 passengers and crew on board an Indonesia-flagged ferry which had run aground in Singapore waters late on Monday night (July 9) were rescued by the Police Coast Guard in an operation.
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.
To complicate matters, the accident occurred on reclaimed land, which meant that land vehicles could not directly access the area, he said.
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 had collided with rocks along the island.
The 45 people aboard the ferry were made up of 33 Malaysian and one Vietnamese passengers and 11 Indonesian crew members.
Police Coast Guard officer Syed Abu Bakar, 38, a trained emergency medical technician, said two men sustained light injuries. One man suffered a neck abrasion while another was bruised in his right leg.
However, he said that due to the shock and the cold, some people were crying and shivering, especially some of the more elderly victims.
"But when we spoke to them and 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 ferry was making a short trip between the cruise liner and Pasir Gudang, Johor, when the incident occurred.
The passengers were subsequently transferred to another ferry, Camara Samudra, and disembarked at Tanjong Pengelih, Johor at 5.15am on Tuesday.
All 45 of them are safe and at their destination.
The ferry's crew members are assisting with investigations.