Saturday, April 7, 2007

Man Answers Nature Call and Saves 100!

Residents of the longhouse salvaging their belongings from the rubble.
Residents of the longhouse salvaging their belongings from the rubble.

One man’s urge to answer nature’s call saved 100 residents of Rumah Merikan ak Johnson from being buried alive in Banting Lingga, Sri Aman, on Thursday. Renjis Empati, 57, was walking to the toilet outside the longhouse at 2am when he saw his kitchen slowly collapsing. He then ran to the ruai (longhouse walkway) and shouted to warn residents of the 14-door longhouse and nine other homes.

"I could feel the earth trembling and saw the longhouse collapse into a sinkhole."

The farmer was left with the pair of shorts he was wearing and a shotgun he took from his house before the building collapsed.
"All my belongings, including jars passed down from my ancestors, are lost."

Residents of the longhouse treat Renjis like a hero now.

"If it were not for him, most of us would be dead by now," said Lada Rentap, 67.

Lada could only save her Mykad when she fled from the longhouse.

Another victim, Limah Buma, 70, said it was "horrifying".

"I was dragged by my husband. I could not walk as the floor was wobbling and when we reached the stairs outside, it slowly sank one rung at a time into the earth," she said.

Limah could not contain her emotions and burst into tears when she said all her hand-woven rattan mats, which she had collected since she was a 12-year-old girl, were lost in the incident.

"I also lost seven jars, passed down from my ancestors. Those were priceless. Those jars were hundreds of years old," she said.

There are five longhouses situated close to each other in the village, which was founded more than a century ago.

Yesterday, the Sri Aman Community Welfare Department presented RM13,200 to the villagers.

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