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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Singapore woman helps save group from drowning at Desaru

Sulaiman Kamal | 4:16 PM | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Singaporean Rita Zuhaida Mohd Nazeer describing how she
 helped to rescue two men at Tanjung Balau beach near Desaru, Johor.
It was meant to be a relaxing beach getaway during the long Chinese New Year break.
But Singaporean Rita Zuhaida Mohd Nazeer, 24, her best friend and her nephew found themselves fighting strong currents to save a group of seven Malaysians from drowning.
The incident took place on Monday at about 1.30pm at Tanjung Balau near Desaru, Johor, an area that has seen eight drowning deaths since last November.
While Miss Rita Zuhaida, an accountant with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, and her companions can swim, they are not trained in rescue techniques.
Yet they saved a girl and two men.

Lifeguards and other beachgoers saved another girl and two boys.
In the chaos, Miss Rita Zuhaida thought all seven were safe, but minutes later, she was devastated to find out that one person was missing.
"This woman came up to me and asked if I had seen a boy wearing a green shirt. My heart sank," she told The New Paper yesterday.
Kota Tinggi police chief Che Mahadzan Che Aik told TNP that the body of Richard Rajagopal, 17, was recovered almost an hour later.
Miss Rita Zuhaida, who is single, said she broke down when she saw the body.
"I was hoping he had survived by clinging to the rocks. His body was found where I had been during the rescue.
"I could have been next," she said.
The dead teen's father is a friend of the man she helped to save.
Despite her brave act, she kept apologising to the man because she felt she could have done more.
"He was distraught at the thought of having to break the news to his friend.
"If only I had worn goggles, I could have helped to look. If only I knew there was one more in the water," she said with regret in her voice.
Miss Rita Zuhaida said she has not slept well since because the traumatic incident keeps replaying in her head.
She was in chest-high water with her best friend, Miss Siti Aqilah, 22, and her Malaysian nephew, Mohd Shafiq Arsyad Zainul Abidin, 16, when they heard a girl shouting in the water 10m away.
The girl was part of a group of seven who were near some rocks in the water.
At first, Miss Rita Zuhaida thought the girl was joking because there were some men in their mid-20s who were nearer the girl but were not responding to her shouts.
When the rest of the girl's group started to flail their arms in the water, she knew she had to do something.
She nudged her nephew to help as he was the more experienced swimmer, having learnt to swim when he was five.
He was the first to help those struggling in the water, followed closely by his aunt and Miss Siti.
Mohd Shafiq told TNP over the phone yesterday that his flight steward uncle had taught him some rescue techniques such as keeping the victim's chin up to prevent water from getting into the mouth and nose.
He managed to get the girl who had shouted for help to shallow water and went back to help his aunt and her best friend rescue the two men.
The men were struggling violently and would hit them or drag them down.
They found the best way to help was to have someone to go underwater to push the men at the waist towards the shore, while two others pulled at the surface.
As Miss Rita Zuhaida and Miss Siti were both wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants and headscarves, it was difficult for them to move in the water.
But Miss Siti, a final-year student at Monash University in Kuala Lumpur, said she did not think twice about rescuing the group.
"When I saw their faces, I knew I had to help. Instinct kicked in," she said.
Miss Rita Zuhaida, who volunteers with Mendaki and other welfare organisations, also said it was instinctive for her.
She hopes precautionary measures can be taken to prevent future drownings in the area.
She said she did not see warning signs in the area and lifebuoys were not available.
Miss Siti had another shock after she returned to Singapore on Tuesday night. Her aunt's husband, who had been hospitalised, died that night.
She has been spending nights at Miss Rita Zuhaida's place, and the two help to comfort each other. Miss Rita Zuhaida's father, Mr Mohd Nazeer Mohd Russull, 72, also keeps thinking about the drowning incident.
The retiree, who lives in Johor Baru, was with Miss Rita Zuhaida, the youngest of his four daughters, his wife, two married daughters and their families at Tanjung Balau.
He had gone to the toilet before the drama unfolded. By the time he came back, there was a crowd where his daughter and grandson had been.
When he heard it was a drowning, he panicked.
His second daughter had nearly drowned when she was seven during a chalet stay at Changi beach.
He said: "I can't describe how happy I was when I saw that they were okay."
Mr Mohd Nazeer, who taught his children how to swim when they were young, has always told them it is dangerous to help a drowning person.
"They should let others, who are more capable, to do it if they are not confident," he said.
"But I am proud that they risked their lives to save others."

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