ON the second last day of the Year of the Rabbit, Kho Ying Qi was finally found.
The 19-year-old student who fell into a monsoon drain and was swept away on Jan 12, will be cremated today and go to her final resting place.
Her family and friends, along with many Kuching folk and Sarawakians of all walks of life had been praying for her body to be found.
Her father Kho Khiew Teck thanked everyone who contributed their time and resources from the day Ying Qi went missing up to when she was found.
Personnel from the Fire and Rescue Department, Civil Defence Department and police really did try so hard to find her.
The rescuers must be applauded for their efforts as they could have called off their operations much earlier but knew how vital it was for her family that Ying Qi be found.
No one could have guessed she would have drifted as far as Muara Tebas, about 30km from where she was last seen, but praise God she was not swept out to sea to be lost forever.
Thankfully her family can have some closure. As painful as it is to bury a child so young, at least they are able to do so.
Out of all this tragedy, it is touching to learn that Khiew Teck and her mother Chan Bee Hong have been in contact with the family of Herman Sihas, the man who drowned trying to save her.
Khiew Teck had apparently arranged for the two families to meet up after Chinese New Year as Herman’s family members are currently back in their village in Lundu.
In their tragic deaths, Ying Qi and Herman have joined their two families forever.
May these two families find comfort and friendship in each other.
And may Ying Qi and Herman rest in peace.
The report from The Sunday Post:
Family’s prayers answered after Ying Qi’s body found
KUCHING: The body of Kho Ying Qi, the Upper 6 student who was swept away during a flash flood in the city on Jan 5, was found yesterday in Muara Tebas, bringing an end to a 16-day search, which was closely followed by the public.
The discovery was made around 9.30am by a group of women from Kampung Goebilt while searching for river snails along the bank of the Sarawak River next to a coal-powered plant owned by Sejingkat Power Corporation milesdownstream from the spot where she fell into the drain.
The body of the 19-year-old SMK Batu Lintang student was still clad in her school uniform- minus her shoes- and was in a badly-decomposed state when found.
One of the women, whose husband works at the power plant, said she smelled an odour coming from the mangrove trees and decided to take a look, and was shocked to see a body trapped among the roots of one of the trees.
Realising they had most likely stumbled upon the body of the missing student, the women quickly informed a group of auxiliary policemen at the power plant, who in turn notified the police.
District police chief ACP Roslan Bek Ahmad confirmed the recovery when contacted yesterday, saying the girl’s father, Kho Khiew Teck, had positively identified the body as belonging to Ying Qi based on the car key found in her skirt pocket.
The body was subsequently taken to the Sarawak General Hospital mortuary and was received by waiting family members and relatives.
When met, Khiew Teck said he learned of the discovery after receiving a call from the police around 11.30am asking him to identify a body found in Muara Tebas.
Family never gave up hope
He said the family had never given up hope of finding Ying Qi’s body, and thanked everyone who had contributed their time and resources from the day his daughter went missing up to when she was found.
He also said that Ying Qi’s body will be cremated today in Bau.
In a heart wrenching moment for everyone at the hospital, Ying Qi’s mother, Chan Bee Hong, cried as she embraced the brother-in-law of the late Herman Sihas @ Mohd Sulaiman Abdullah, who drowned while trying to save Ying Qi that fateful morning.
The brother-in-law, who turned up at the hospital after being contacted by Khiew Teck, said that he was relieved the Kho family’s ordeal had come to an end, adding that Herman’s mother had been praying everyday for Ying Qi’s body to be found.
He also disclosed that Ying Qi’s father had in fact called him earlier in the morning to arrange for the
two families to meet up after Chinese New Year as Herman’s family are currently back in their village in Lundu.
Ying Qi slipped into the raging water of a swollen monsoon drain at Rock Road and was swept away on the morning of Jan 5.
Herman, a petrol station worker, also drowned when he jumped into the drain together with an off-duty fireman in a failed attempt to rescue the student.
His body was found on Jan 7 at Sungai Maong Ulu and was subsequently buried at the Semariang Muslim Cemetery.
The tragedy had tugged at the heart strings of people from all walks of life, who not only expressed their sympathies to the victims’ families, but also lauded the late Herman for sacrificing his life in trying to save another.
A report from the Star:
Kho’s body spotted near Kampung Goebilt by a river snail collector
By NIGEL EDGAR
KUCHING: The body of Kho Ying Qi, 19, who fell into and drowned in a monsoon drain at Jalan Rock was finally found after 16 days some 30km near Kampung Goebilt in the mouth of Sarawak River.
The highly decomposed body was found by a villager who was out looking for ‘tekoyong’ (a type of edible snails) along the river around 8.30am yesterday.
The police was immediately alerted and a Civil Defence Department team was sent to retrieve the body from between some mangrove trees near Sejingkat power station.
The police also told Kho’s parents to come and identify the body. The father, Kho Khiew Teck, 44, came to the scene to identify the body. Kho’s identity was confirmed based on her school uniform and a bunch of keys.
The body was quickly transported to Sarawak General Hospital mortuary where the mother Chan Bee Hong, 42, told reporters that she wanted to see her daughter for the last time but was advised against it as it would violate a Chinese belief.
“I just wanted to say goodbye for the last time,” she said in tears.
Only the father was allowed to go into the mortuary to sign some papers and final identification.
After calming down a little, Chan mustered some courage to talk to reporters.
She said it was like a nightmare finding her daughter in that condition after 16 days.
Chan said she had to accept the fact that her daughter had died even though she had hoped otherwise.
“It is extremely bitter for me to accept. And now that she has been found, we thank everyone for having helped us from day one.
“Thank you for all your support – members of the public for their donations and concern, the police, Bomba, Civil Defense Department, and especially Herman Sihas for having given his life to try to save my daughter,” said Chan.
Coincidentally, yesterday was also the day when Kho’s family was supposed to meet with Herman’s family represented by Herman’s brother-in-law Quenifoneous Dominic.
“The search is over and I pray that both Kho and Herman would rest in peace,” he said.
As a matter of interest, Quenifoneous pointed out that Kho’s body was discovered on a Saturday. When Herman’s body was found a week ago it was also on Saturday.
A police officer at the spot where Kho’s body was found said the body ended up far from where the girl fell due to the combination of high tide and heavy rain.
Kho, a SMK Batu Lintang Form 6 student fell into the flooded monsoon drain while walking to a bus stop after her car stalled at a nearby petrol kiosk.
Herman Sihas, 28, a worker at the petrol kiosk, saw what happened and immediately jumped into the water to save her, but both of them were swept away.
Kuching OCPD ACP Roslan Bek Ahmad said the police had confirmed that the body was indeed that of Kho Ying Qi.
He also confirmed that the body was found about 30km from the spot in Batu Lintang where Kho Ying Qi, 19, slipped into a flooded monsoon drain last January 5.
Later, Khiew said their daughter’s body would be taken straight to the Buddhist Association Centre at Tanjong Durian near Bau for the wake.
“The cremation would be at 9am tomorrow (today) and her ashes will be scattered into the South China Sea,” he said.
How the New Straits Times reported it:
Missing teen’s body found
By Nancy Nais
KUCHING : The search for missing schoolgirl Kho Ying Qi is over. The 19-year-old Form Six student of SMK Batu Lintang, who fell into a swift-flowing drain during the flash flood that hit the city here on Jan 5, was found yesterday, 40km from where the incident took place.
A group of villagers from Kampung Goebilt looking for edible river snails along Sungai Sarawak during low tide found her body entangled among mangrove trees near the Sejingkat power plant.
Civil Defence Department head of search and rescue operations Mahri Sidi said the villagers stumbled upon Ying Qi’s body, still clad in her school uniform, at 8.30am.
Her father, Khiew Teck, 44, identified her body.
The keys to her car, which stalled in floodwaters not far from her school, was found inside her pocket.
Ying Qi was walking to a bus stop on the main road to seek safety and shelter from the rain, as it was on higher ground, when she slipped and fell into the swollen drain.
An employee of a nearby petrol station who was on duty jumped into the drain in a vain bid to save her.
But the swift water washed both her and 28-year-old Mohd Sulaiman Abdullah @ Herman Sihas away.
Sulaiman’s body was found three days later, about 3km away in Sungai Maong, a tributary of Sungai Sarawak, and into which water from storm drains in the area drained.
Civil Defence Department personnel retrieved Ying Qi’s body and sent it to Sarawak General Hospital.
It was a heart-rending sight at SGH mortuary. Almost everyone there, including the civil defence personnel and Sulaiman’s relatives, were seen shedding tears.
Ying Qi’s mother, Chan Bee Hong, 42, was sobbing uncontrollably after family members decided it was best she refrained from seeing her daughter’s body.
She begged them to allow her to see the body.
“I am her mother. I beg you, please let me see her and bid her goodbye. I want to tell her how much I love her,” Chan said, clutching her daughter’s favourite light blue blanket.
After a while, she broke down again when she saw Sulaiman’s relatives arriving.
The tragedy had forged a bond between the two grieving families.
Chan rushed to meet Sulaiman’s brother-in-law, Quenifoneous Dominic, 34, to beg for forgiveness.
The Khos and Dominic have been in touch since that fateful day on Jan 5 to keep each other updated about what was happening and to comfort one another.
Before leaving the mortuary, Khiew Teck and Chan thanked everyone who had helped them.
“I saw it all myself, the search and rescue personnel, volunteer divers and many more worked day and night to find my girl since she went missing,” Chan said.
“A few firemen continued to search for her on a volunteer basis even though the search was called off.
“We would like to sincerely thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts.”
The search and rescue was called off on Jan 12 but the civil defence department nonetheless had continued the search.
Ying Qi’s funeral service will take place at 9am today in Tanjung Durian. She will be cremated and her ashes will be thrown into the sea.