Photos courtesy of Senator Rukebai Inabo.
Marine Law Enforcement Acting Chief Lt. Cdr. Emerson Nobuo confirmed that they received a call around noon of March 6 to respond to an emergency in Sonsorol where an injured boy was reportedly needing medical assistance but he said that they could not respond to the emergency because their boats have defects.
In an interview, Nobuo said that Maritime Security and Fish and Wildlife Protection Acting Director Victor Remengesau notified him of the incident in Sonsorol but they could not deploy their personnel because their “assets are down for maintenance.”
Nobuo also said that they did not refer the request to other entities as “dealing with another entity to go out and rescue” was not part of their job.
“All we did when the request came is that we just told them that our boats cannot respond to the emergency because [they have] defects,” Nobuo said.
According to Nobuo, the Australian government-donated patrol boat, PSS Remeliik, acquired a major engine problem after the recent operation to Yap and that they are yet expecting engineers from Australia to help with the repair.
Meanwhile, the PSS Kedam, a patrol boat donated by the Japanese non-profit organizations Nippon Foundation and Sasakawa Foundation, also has similar problem for a month now, according to Nobuo.
Nobuo explained that they could not repair the PSS Kedam on their own as based on the agreement signed with the Japanese organization. According to the agreement, the Japanese organization is responsible for repairs and maintenance of the boats for 10 years from the date of the turnover of the boats to Palau.
Nobuo added that Japanese engineers are scheduled to come to Palau for the repair next month.
“We could not respond so we just told the governor of Sonsorol (Governor Laura Miles) and the Vice President [Raynold Oilouch] that we could not respond,” Nobuo told Island Times.
Island Times called Sonsorol State Governor Laura Miles yesterday, March 11, to ask for further details but she denied any knowledge about the incident.
A Facebook post by Senator Rukebai Inabo on March 9 which showed photos of a boy, with his left arm covered with what looked like compression bandages, and a man were seen getting off a boat with the assistance of a few individuals.
In the social media post, Senator Inabo revealed that the rescue of the boy and the man from Sonsorol was done using boats privately owned by Senator Ngirchechebangel Mason Whipps and Surangel Whipps Jr.
As of this writing, the post had earned over 400 reactions with netizens expressing their appreciation for the act.
“The real heroes are the boat drivers. They are Milan Ngirmeriil, Melvin Toribiong, and Jessie Blessam, who through rough weather and mechanical difficulties, toughed it to Sonsorol and back,” Senator Inabo said, referring to the citizens who drove the boat to Sonsorol to conduct the rescue. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)