IBTimes UK

Almost 36 hours after the helicopter carrying several VIPs including a minister crashed in Batang Lupar in Malaysia, the search teams are losing hope of finding any survivors.

Rescue teams continued search operations from the air, land and sea even after it was dark around the accident site, which is 200 km away from Kuching.

The teams are focusing on an area from where the first wreckage was found as well as the area from where the body of Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Noriah Kasnon was found.

Although the researchers are losing hope, State Fire and Rescue Department director Nor Hisham Mohammad has not confirmed all on board the chopper died.

When the media asked him about dwindling hopes as the hours go on, he replied: "I reserve my comment. I still pray to find survivors."

On Friday, when the first body was found and speculations were rife over the condition of the body, Hisham dismissed all speculations and said, "The body was complete. That's all."

Throughout the day, a larger number of search and rescue personnel were deployed. Hisham said that by nightfall, boats, helicopters and people were coming from everywhere, including ambulances from Simunjan and boats from Sibu.

Referring to the first body retrieval procedure, he said: "We do not lack personnel and logistics. We keep getting more. Tonight, we'll work right into the night. You could say our success rate was higher when the tide was low." The body was retrieved around noon when the riverbank was most exposed.

The search has become complicated because of Batang Lupar's geography as this is one of the places in Malaysia where tidal bores occur. As a result of this, water from the sea flows into the river mouth, travelling inland and creating waves.

"So we must try our best tonight (last night) to ensure we fully utilise the time we'll have when the tide goes low again," said Hisham reports Asia One.

The helicopter pieces have been found in bits and pieces far apart. The first part was some 4km from the probable site of impact. Objects retrieved so far include an inflatable buoy, parts of the door and a chair.

The main search site is nothing more than a series of tents erected next to a jetty landing. The ferry was operating on an interrupted schedule on Friday.

When the news of retrieving the body was confirmed, all the commotion in the search area turned quiet immediately. The cars were re-parked and the central median was cleared. The ferry operator was moved so that the speed boat could operate as gently as possible.

Hundreds of people gathered at the site. Medical officers were present, with two ambulances next to a single police truck which had a body bag.

It took around 20 minutes for the body to arrive and the ambulance left after that. The scene was in a somber mode after that.

IBTimes UK