Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Two Mystery Unmanned Barges ran ashore

ROMPIN: Mystery surrounds the discovery of two huge barges beached near Kampung Pantai Jawa, about 20 kilometres from here, on Sunday.

The Singapore-registered vessels did not have any cargo on board.

The nearest area where such barges usually operate is off the coast of Pengerang, Johor, where they are used to transport sand for reclamation purposes.

Villagers, who spotted the barges off the coast here, had at first thought that they were massive mounds of entangled logs adrift at sea.

However, they were shock- ed when the "mounds", each about the length of two football fields, turned out to be unmanned barges.

The barges, which were two and three-storeys high, settled on the sand during low tide at the Laut Tiga beach near the village about 6.30pm.

One of the barges bears the markings "Winbuild 1802 Singapore", and the other, "Pulau Tiga 1308 Singapore".

Villager Ismail Mat Taib, 48, said he first saw the drifting barges while herding his cattle near the beach about 4.30pm.

"I thought they may be mysterious islands which had surfaced unnaturally from the bottom of the sea," he said.

Ismail then alerted the other villagers, who gathered to watch the barges as they drifted, 500 metres apart, towards the beach.

The incident happened during clear weather although the sea was choppy with huge waves.

Another villager, Hashim Ahmad, 60, said he and his friends were getting ready to rescue the crew of the barges. "We were all surprised when it turned out that there was no one on board."

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