Boy risks life to save drowning girls
By STEPHEN THEN
BELAGA: The angelic smiles on the faces of half sisters Emai Joseph, five, and Catherine Ubong Ding, four, belie their recent near-death experience.
The two girls, who live at the Lepo Badeng settlement in the Kapit division, about 50km from Bakun, have their fellow villager 12-year-old Berine Sua Linggi to thank for their second chance at life after they fell into the Belaga River while playing on the bank on Aug 16.
Berine, who was walking along the riverbank with his friends, saw something floating in the water.
“When I went closer, I realised there were two children in the river. I could see the back of their heads as they were being tossed around in the water.
“They were several metres from the river bank, floating about in a whirlpool of current.
“I shouted to my friends and jumped into the river, swimming as fast as I could. I then grabbed the two girls and pulled them to the shore,” he said, adding that he and his friends then ran back to the village for help.
Longhouse elder Francis Merang said when he found the two girls on the riverbank, they were not breathing and their bodies were cold.
“We rushed them in a car to the Sungai Asap clinic about 10 minutes away. An attendant at the clinic, Idin, then gave them emergency treatment.
“He turned their bodies around and pressed their bodies a few times before water rushed out from their mouths. The girls then started coughing,” said Merang.
He said when villagers tried to thank Idin, he said he was merely doing his job.
The Lepo Badeng settlement has a population of more than 1,000 Orang Ulus, mostly from the Kayan ethnic group.
Visting Catholic priest Reverend Father Sylvester Ding described the two girls as “miracle kids”, pointing out that Berine deserved a hero’s status for risking his life.
Emai is now back studying in her Kemas kindergarten class not far from Sungai Asap, while Berine has gone back to his school SK Long Gang Belaga, where he is in Primary Six.
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