Monday, 2 December 2013

Dangerous fun

Splashing through a mountain stream makes for great photos ...
Doesn't this photo just make you want to drive to a river?


River crossings are such a fun part of 4X4 adventures in part, I suspect, because they are not normal occurrences. I mean, a 4X4 is still a car with four wheels so it's natural environment is on land. It is not a boat.
The fact that a well-prepared 4X4 can wade through water up to a metre deep means that water crossings are among some of the most fun things you can do with a car in the tropical jungle.
On even the mildest trips with the greenest of greenhorns, I see happy faces with broad grins emerging from cars immediately after fording a stream.
Even veterans are not immune to the excitement, high-fiving each other after a successful crossing, even if only because they know how badly wrong things could have gone.
As another year draws to a close, we in Malaysia are reminded that the rainy season is upon us. It is timely for a reminder that the awesome forces of nature are not to be trifled with.
In the Rainforest Challenge (RFC) of 2007 in Terengganu, raging floods trapped even the most well-equipped vehicles and experienced crews on hills that became islands, and many participants had to trek out to the nearest point where they could be ferried to safety by rescue boats. Their cars had to be abandoned where they lay, to be recovered later when the floodwaters had receded.
Today, there was news that a group of 17 people in six 4X4s were trapped by rising rivers and had to be rescued.
A brief excerpt from the Bernama article (full story here): "KEMAMAN, Dec 3 — Seventeen participants of a four-wheel-drive (4x4) vehicle expedition from Pahang went through anxious moments when they were trapped at Sungai Cherul, here, as the path out of the place was flooded.
The victims, aged between 25 and 50 years, had driven in six 4×4 vehicles for camping at the location.
Cheneh district Fire and Rescue operations officer, Abdullah Embong said the group’s expedition to the river started on Friday."
And right now, the 2013 RFC convoy is reporting floods (photo courtesy of 4X4 Magazine Malaysia) in areas that they are going through.
Early last month, shortly after returning home from Borneo Safari 2013, the Indonesian Everything Four Wheel Drive (EFWD) team were called upon to assist in a rescue operation. Apparently, several vehicles were crossing a stream when they were swept away by sudden flashfloods (photo below), with devastating consequences, including the tragic loss of one life.


So, as the rains continue falling, please be careful when enjoying the great outdoors. Don't camp right next to a river, no matter how placid or serene it looks when you roll up to it. Camp on higher round and walk down to the water to bathe and swim.
Don't attempt to ford a stream if the current is too strong for you to wade across on foot.
If in doubt, don't. Turn back, go home. And take basic precautions such as informing friends or relatives about where you are going and when you expect to be back, so that they can call for help should unforeseen problems arise.
Above all, stay safe out there.


The full story on the stranded group and rescue.
KEMAMAN, Dec 3 — Seventeen participants of a four-wheel-drive (4x4) vehicle expedition from Pahang went through anxious moments when they were trapped at Sungai Cherul, here, as the path out of the place was flooded.
The victims, aged between 25 and 50 years, had driven in six 4×4 vehicles for camping at the location.
Cheneh district Fire and Rescue operations officer, Abdullah Embong said the group’s expedition to the river started on Friday.
He said the victims were planning to get out of the area on Sunday afternoon but the water level of the river rose dramatically and hindered their journey.
“They decided to find a way out in the morning but failed when the river continued to overflow hampering their exit,” he told Bernama, here, today.
But all of them were successfully ferried out in boats by the Fire and Rescue Department which began the operations at 1pm today and ended almost three hours later.
The fire fighters used two boats to rescue them and all the victims were reported safe. — Bernama