Singaporean kayaker's body brought home; search area for 2nd kayaker narrowed after body sighting

In a photo taken on Aug 15, 2019, Malaysian Maritime Deputy Lieutenant Eddieson Efendi Ussim gives a briefing to the family of Singaporean Tan Eng Soon, who had gone missing while kayaking in Endau waters near Mersing on Aug 8, 2019. PHOTO: BERNAMA

SINGAPORE - The body of Singaporean kayaker Josephine Puah Geok Tin, 57, was transported by undertakers back to Singapore on Friday (Aug 16), accompanied by her younger son Louis Pang and five relatives.

Meanwhile, Malaysian authorities continued to comb the waters between Kuantan, in Pahang, and Kerteh, in Terengganu, for Mr Tan Eng Soon.

The 62-year-old and Madam Puah had gone missing while kayaking in Endau waters near Mersing last Thursday (Aug 8).

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said in a statement in Malay on Friday: "Following the discovery of a body in the waters of Kuala Kemaman on Wednesday, the Kuantan Maritime Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) has been placed in charge of the search and a Forward Operation Base (FOB) was established at the Kemaman Maritime Zone office yesterday."

It added that four boats are involved in the search and rescue operations spanning 265 square nautical miles between Kuantan and Kerteh.

"The victim's family members and Singapore consulate personnel are also at the jetty at the Kemaman Maritime Zone to keep abreast of the latest developments," it said.

Malaysian newspaper The Star reported later in the evening that local authorities had narrowed their search to the waters in Terengganu between Kemaman and Merchang after the reported sighting of a body in Dungun waters.

The body was seen on Thursday about 40 nautical miles, or about 75km, from the search area.

Kemaman zone maritime director Maritime Commander Rashidilhadi Abd Rashid said that, according to a local fishermen's WhatsApp group, the body was strapped with a life jacket.

Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported that Mr Tan's 23-year-old son Jeremy had thanked all the personnel involved in the search and rescue operations and said he hoped his father could be found soon.

Mr Tan Eng Soon's wife, Madam Kwan Yoke Yee, with a consular officer at Penyabong Jetty in Mersing on Aug 14, 2019. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

On Wednesday, Madam Puah's body was discovered by a fisherman in Terengganu waters near Kuala Kemaman.

Her son Louis, 24, identified her body slightly after midnight on Thursday at a hospital in Kemaman.

The cause of death was drowning, a relative told The Straits Times, quoting an autopsy report. She added that no injuries were found on the body.

The paddlers' bright green kayak was found on Tuesday upside down in waters along the Kuantan coastline, about 150km away from the pair's last reported location.

The duo had separated from their group in choppy waters while on a five-day expedition to explore the islands near Mersing during the long weekend.

In an Instagram post on Friday, Madam Puah's daughter Ranie Pang wrote: "Dear family and friends, my family and I would like to thank you all for your kind messages, care and support during this time.

The Instagram post by Madam Josephine Puah Geok Tin's daughter Ranie Pang on Aug 16, 2019. PHOTO: RAINEEEE/INSTAGRAM

"Josephine Puah Geok Tin (our dearest mummy) had lived her life to the fullest. If you wish to join us to celebrate her wonderful life, the wake details are as follows."

Madam Puah's wake will be held from Saturday to Monday at the void deck of her home in Tampines.

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