Due to flooding in their villages, hundreds of children from Malaysia’s remotely located indigenous tribal communities were airlifted by helicopter so that they could attend school.
Since their forest homes were cut off from the floods and logging activities, the 240 children from the Orang Asli communities in the east coast states of Terengganu and Kelantan were transported by air to boarding schools.
According to The Star, the Orang Asli students were two weeks late for the first day of school.
Kelantan and Terengganu Orang Asli Development Department deputy director Azman Ngadiron was quoted as saying it took three days to airlift all the students from posts deep in the jungles to the schools.
“Together with the state Education Department and the Fire and Rescue Services Department’s air unit, we launched Ops (Operations) Murni to transport the students by air as land access routes are damaged,” he said.
In his blog, former Royal Malaysian Airforce (RMAF) Officer explained that the students were earlier stranded as a main road in Gua Musang that connected to their four settlements were completely cut off.
— The Star (@staronline) January 15, 2018
The Fire and Rescue Department’s Air Unit (JBPM) deployed Agusta Westland A109E and Agusta Westland 139, to send the students to school.
“Although the weather was unpredictable, both helicopters managed to take 52 students from Pos Balar and Pos Belatim to Gua Musang Civic Field, while 44 students were taken from Pos Cemal to Pos Balar on the first day of Ops Murni.
“The operation started at 10.10am and ended at 5.10pm due to worsening weather conditions,” he said, as quoted by the Malaysian Digest.
He said there were also mercy flights to bring Orang Asli with critical illness to the nearest hospital.
“This shows the availability of JBPM to change their mode of operation for the lives and well-being of the people even though their lives were at risk to save others.”
“Many Malaysians do not know about the services offered by the government for the Orang Asli.
“Because of the lack of awareness, the government is always criticised and accused of not caring about the problems faced by the community.
“The fact is that for JBPM only, 47 charitable flights were made in 2015 to fly 111 patients and escort. And most of them are from the Orang Asli community,” he said.
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