KOTA BARU, Sept 21, 2015:

One hundred and twenty members from the 4th Border Regiment (RS) in Grik, Perak, will today take over the search and rescue operation from the 216 personnel from 1 RS, Tanah Merah, for the seven Orang Asli pupils missing since last month.

Commander of the 8th Infantry Brigade, Brig-Gen Zarondin Md Amin said 1 RS has been pulled out to give the troops, who have been carrying out the search and rescue operation for the last 26 days, a rest.

On Aug 23, Juvina David, 7, Linda Rosli, 8, Sasa Sobrie, 8, Ika Ayel, 9, Haikal Yaakob, 8, Norieen Yaakob, 10, and Miksudiar Aluj, 11, from Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Tohoi, Gua Musang, fled into a forest reserve to escape punishment for swimming in a nearby river without permission.

“We have been given the responsibility to conduct a 80 km radius search in the northern area of SK Tohoi.

“Within that radius, we will divide six search sectors involving three sectors in Kampung Gawin and three sectors in Kampung Penad,” Zarondin said when contacted by Bernama here, today.

He said they would also use two Royal Malaysian Air Force helicopters and two tracker dogs to search for the children.

Among the constraints faced by the search party is the lack of accurate information on the disappearance of the children, which entered day 29 today.

“For example, when we interview the pupils’ teachers or friends, they come up with many stories and we have to investigate each and every story, but in the end we only reach an impasse.

“However, we will continue to carry out the operation until all the pupils are found.”

The Kelantan Fire and Rescue Department retained its 38 members to continue with the search operation and its assistant director (operations), Hussin Ab Rahman said their personnel would continue with the search even during Aidiladha, on Thursday. “We want the firemen to stick together with the security forces until the the children are found,” he said during a briefing for the search and rescue team at the Gua Musang Fire and Rescue Station, here, today.

Meanwhile, Kelantan Orang Asli Youth Network chairman, Dendi Johari, when met at Pos Tohoi said family members were losing hope of seeing their children again because all search efforts, including consulting a bomoh, have come to naught.

In the meantime, the Kelantan State Education Department has placed 10 education officers at the Pos Tohoi operation centre to help in the search and rescue mission.

Its director, Ab Aziz Abdullah said officials from the Tangok Co-Curriculum Centre, Bachok, would be placed on a rotation basis until all the victims are found.

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