Kelantan police chief: Four Orang Asli bodies slated to be retrieved from jungle today

Kelantan police chief Datuk Hasanuddin Hassan briefs reporters in Gua Musang June 12, 2019. — Bernama pic
Kelantan police chief Datuk Hasanuddin Hassan briefs reporters in Gua Musang June 12, 2019. — Bernama pic

KOTA BARU, June 16 — The police are expected to bring out four more bodies of Orang Asli from the Batek tribe in Kampung Kuala Koh that were found in the search operation codenamed “Operasi Batek”, today.

Kelantan police chief Datuk Hasanuddin Hassan said a police forensics team aided by 12 Orang Asli men will enter the jungle area for the recovery operation and that the bodies were expected to be brought out by this evening.

He, however, said it also depended on the weather and travelling distance.

“If the weather is good, we will proceed, but if it rains heavily, then the operation to bring out the bodies will be postponed.

“The journey to the location of the four bodies will take four or five hours. If we use a boat, it will take us two hours but it would be difficult if it rains,” he told reporters after the Kelantan Police Contingent Headquarters (IPK) monthly gathering here today.

He explained that if it rained heavily today, it would be difficult for the search team in the forest as they were likely to face risks like decayed tree branches falling on them.

Besides weather and distance, the operation to bring out bodies also will take into account the Batek tribe’s customs and cannot be “taken out just like that”, he said.

“As we said before, there are 12 bodies in all, that is true. But, until all bodies brought out and identified by their next-of-kin, then only we can verify it.

“As we all know, we found bone fragments (of the bodies) and identities can only be confirmed through DNA tests,” he said.

Hasanuddin added police also will record statements from family members of the victims after all the bodies were brought out.

He said some of the family members were most likely to have migrated and some perhaps would have died (during migration) and buried in the area.

Hasanuddin further stressed that Kampung Kuala Koh’s status as a ‘red zone’ (restricted) area would remain until further notice.

A crisis has hit the Batek people in Kampung Kuala Koh whereby within a space of a month 14 people from the village died of mysterious circumstance.

The cause or causes of the deaths have yet to be ascertained but the victims were reported to be suffering from breathing difficulties. A pneumonia outbreak is suspected. — Bernama