Private helicopter carrying three passengers crashed into Sungai Teriso Sarawak

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EUROCOPTER EC 120: This is the model of the helicopter that crashed into Sungai Teriso estuary yesterday. — Bernama photo

A private helicopter carrying three passengers to Nanga Merit Kapit Division crashed into Sungai Teriso estuary near Sebuyau 150 km from here at about 9.30am yesterday.

The German pilot Rico Steger, 35, managed to get out from the wreckage and swam for a few hours before reaching Kampung Tebelu, Sebuyau, clad only in boxer shorts shortly past noon.

State police chief Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani, confirming the incident, said a group of fishermen rescued the pilot at the river estuary and brought him to Kampung Tebelu.

The passengers identified as Peter Ato Mayau, 53, Siti Khuzaima and Henry Loh were still missing when the search and rescue operations were called off at 7pm yesterday.

The press could not interview Rico as he was driven away from Sebuyau Police Station to join an aerial search to pinpoint the location of the crash.

The search-and-rescue team comprising personnel from Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba), Civil Defence Department and Malaysian Marine Enforcement Agency (MMEA) had not located the wreckage at press time.

According to Sri Aman district police chief DSP Mat Jusoh Mohamad, the operations would resume this morning.

The Eurocopter EC120 helicopter, belonging to Sebiro Holdings, apparently encountered technical difficulties and was flying in bad weather.

Family members of Peter rushed to Sebuyau after learning about the incident.

His wife Agnes Batang said she sent her husband to Sebiro’s office at 8am, had expressed her concern about the inclement weather to him but he still decided to go along.

She said she last called Peter at 8.30am as he was getting ready to board the helicopter. At 2pm, she received the call informing her of the crash.

They have three children, the eldest son is 25 years old and two daughters aged 20 and 18.

Peter, employed by Sebiro, is the PKR Sarawak vice-chairman. In last year’s state election, he contested under PKR ticket in Tarat but lost. He was said to be among the possible Pakatan Rakyat candidates in Mambong in the coming election.

Meanwhile, Sebiro owner Dato Sng Chee Hua yesterday confirmed there were two engineers and a quantity surveyor aboard the helicopter and that they were flying to Nanga Merit to look at a school project.

He said he was saddened by the unfortunate incident and disappointed with Hornbill Skyways for declining his request to join in the search-and-rescue mission.

When news of the crash broke out, rumours were rife that Sng and his son Larry Sng were on board the helicopter.

Larry who is also president of Sarawak Workers Party, quashed the speculations by posting on his Facebook account updates of the incident.

Yesterday News 20 July

German pilot survives heli crash

A private-owned helicopter belonging to Sebiro crashed into the Sungai Tereso near Simunjan some 150km from Kuching this morning at about 9.20am.

Thirty-five-year old German pilot Rko Steger managed to get out from the helicopter. He swam for four hours in strong water currents before being rescued by local fishermen and taken to Kampung Tebeluk in Sebuyau.

A search and rescue team has been despatched to the area to find the three passengers believed to be engineers. They were found to have survived the impact.

They were earlier on their way to Nanga Merit in Belaga District.

An official from the Department of Civil Aviation who spoke on condition of anonymity said all four were traveling on a US- registered helicopter based in Kuching. – hornbillunleashed