Malaysia: Freak accident sniffs life out of boy plucking palm oil fruit during school break

Oil palm
Picture for representation Reuters

A 12-year-old boy died in a freak accident involving a sickle, which is used to pluck oil palm fruits. The victim went with his grandfather to pluck the fruit at Kampung Sungai Tiang Darat when the sickle bounced from an oil palm fruit and cut through the left side of his chest.

The deceased has been identified as Mohd Riduan Hakim Abd Rashid, a 6th year student of Sekolah Kebangsaan Sungai Tiang Darat.

ACP Mohd Marzukhi Mohd Mokhtar, the Hilir Perak district police chief, said the incident happened at around 2 pm on Wednesday, January 31. The child was having a school break and he went with his grandfather to collect oil palm fruits around 9.30am, revealed initial investigations

"However, when plucking the fruit, suddenly the sickle and stick held by his grandfather fell with a fruit, causing it to bounce and hit the victim's chest," said Mohd Mokhtar, in a statement, according to Bernama . The victim was rushed to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. His body was taken to the Teluk Intan Hospital for post-mortem.

Malaysia is one of the biggest producer and exporter of palm oil and palm oil products. Despite mechanization, many small farmers follow manual threshing of the bunch to get the fruit.

Manual threshing involves cutting the fruit-laden spikelets from the bunch stem with an axe or machete and then separating the fruit from the spikelets by hand. During this process, the boy was hit by the sickle and killed. In a mechanized system, a rotating drum or fixed drum with rotary beater bars detach the fruit from the bunch, leaving the spikelets on the stem.