Lightning kills two
By M K Anwar, Azaraimy & Yusrin Junaidi
Photo: Info Dept




Two male army recruits under-going final assessments at Bukit Agok, Tutong, were killed on Friday night after they were struck by lightning. The incident which happened at about 9.05pm, also injured 13 others with three of them still in intensive care.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday afternoon consented to visit the injured recruits at RIPAS Hospital.

Highlighting His Majesty's concern on the injured recruits, the monarch also visited the three who are still receiving treatment at the Surgical Intensive Care Unit.

Family members were taken aback with His Majesty's presence and expressed their appreciation and gratitude for the unannounced visit.

In Ward 6 where 10 of the recruits were warded, His Majesty was heard advising one of the recuperating recruits to take enough rest.

Present during the visit was the Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General Dato Paduka Seri Hj Awg Halbi and the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence, Dato Paduka Awg Hj Mustappa.

Also in attendance was the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Dato Paduka Awg Serbini.

Earlier in an interview with the Bulletin, one of the recruits, Rumaizi bin Hj Maidin, accounted what happened that fateful evening.

The rain was heavy and streaks of lightning could be seen far off the coast from the hill where they were standing.

He remembered that out of the blue, a series of lightning that seemed to be at a distance struck twice near them, one in front and another just behind.

All he could remember was two of his friends beside him collapsing and the rest of them sustaining injuries.

Later, he found out that two of his fellow comrades who stood beside him were killed, while three ended up receiving intensive care at ICU.

He added that moments before; one of the two who passed away was enjoying his instant noodles and having a laugh with him. He could not fathom all that had happened so suddenly.

It was also a miracle that only a small number of recruits were injured from the 139 taking part in the training.

According to one of the medical officers, the injured were still under observation and their conditions are improving. Some of the family members said they felt relieved as the worst has passed and that most of them are now safe.

Most of the recruits like Rumaizi had sustained some burns on their bodies, it was understood.

The Ministry of Defence in a statement yesterday confirmed that the incident was caused by a lightning strike occurring during heavy rain as the recruits were undergoing jungle training.

The three-day jungle training which started Thursday involved a total of 139 male recruits of the 132nd Intake from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Training Institute.

"This training is one of the final assessments phase that all recruits must undergo during their recruit training," the statement said.

Further investigation into the incident will also be conducted soon. - Borneo Bulletin (1st April 2007)