The safe return of three medical personnel and a boat operator after losing their way due to stormy weather and rough seas between Angaur and Peleliu on March 3, brought great relief to their families as well as the nation that have held its breath, praying for their safe return.
Dr. Sylvia Wally, Nurse Ruth Naruo, Nurse Minda Benjamin, and Operator Abraham Tatingal were conducting medical outreach to Angaur State when upon their return on March 3, were caught in a storm and the infamous rough waters between Angaur and Peleliu and swept off course, failing to return to Peleliu at the scheduled time.
“I admit, we were very scared,” Dr. Sylvia Wally recounted their experience. “The waves and the surfs were huge, and we felt that anytime we could be overturned.”
The information about the lost vessel and its passengers was received on Friday at around 7:30 pm, prompting a search and rescue operation. It was called off late that night and resumed early Saturday morning.
The search and rescue operation included Palau’s patrol boats Remeliik II and Bul, SSC Ksau Tug Boat, Peleliu, and Angaur States’ rangers, and individual boaters voluntarily joining the search.
On Saturday, March 4, at around 2:30 pm, the lost boat and its passengers were found nearly 30 miles south of Angaur by SSC Ksau Tug Boat and were brought safely back to Koror.
The arrival of the rescued medical team and their boat operator was met with tears of joy and relief from families and thankful sighs of relief from many people in Palau and across the globe who watched the event live on social media.
Dr. Sylvia Wally, on behalf of her colleagues, expressed gratitude to all involved in the search and rescue. She said they were physically and emotionally exhausted from their ordeal, but were not spiritually exhausted, believing God had a plan for them.
Recounting their ordeal, Dr. Wally incidentally revealed that the boat they were on did not have operational torch lights. It had a GPS system but the boat operator was not trained to use it.
In a press release issued by the Ministry of Justice, as result of this incident, further review of the water safety protocols will take place to ensure that such incident is prevented in the future.
Vice President and Minister of Justice Uduch Sengebau-Senior thanked all who participated in the search and rescue operation, including the families of the rescued medical team and individuals who volunteered their boats and resources in the search.
What? Boat operator is not trained to use GPS? Is there an existing marine law for all boat operators that they must first be trained and certified to use GPS, satellite technology, and tracking systems? It must be mandatory for the government to check that all boat operators are certified and if not they should not operate any boat and even heavily penalized along with the company.
Leave a comment