BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – A passenger boat carrying 20 people departing from Bangar, Temburong collided with a Limbang-registered speedboat on Sungai Limpaku Thursday afternoon, causing the death of two Bruneians and two Malaysian nationals.

Emergency personnel was dispatched to the scene after a distress call was received around 2.18pm. The Brunei passengers were rushed to the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital in the capital.

Later in the evening, the Maritime and Port Authority confirmed the death of two Bruneian women, senior TelBru officer Hjh Rosmawati Hj Abdul Manaf, who was returning from Temburong with several colleagues, and Sanah binti Lisa.

Among the Malaysian victims was a 21-year-old man and seven-year-old boy whose bodies were found at 5.40pm by search and rescue personnel.

Authorities said the cause of the accident is still being investigated. The collision occurred in Malaysian waters, near Limbang.

The remnants of a Limbang speedboat following a collision with a Temburong passenger boat on September 28, 2018. The accident claimed three lives, and injured several more. Photo: Limbang Fire and Rescue/Facebook
Fire and Rescue personnel on the scene of the accident on Sungai Rangau, near the Brunei-Malaysia border. A collision between a Temburong passenger boat and Limbang speedboat left three dead on September 28, 2018. Photo: Limbang Fire and Rescue/Facebook

The news first broke via social media platforms, with viral messages containing alleged pictures of a passenger boat damaged on its starboard side with the victims inside.

Following the viral messages, The Scoop went to the jetty in Bandar where the Minister of Communications YB Dato Seri Setia Abdul Mutalib Pehin Dato Yusof was seen disembarking a boat after inspecting the collision site.

“We are still gathering information, but we can confirm that the accident took place,” said the Chief Executive of Brunei’s Maritime and Port Authority Hj Sallihin Hj Aspar. He was among the senior officials accompanying the minister to the accident site.

Also at the jetty area were a few TelBru personnel who confirmed that they were awaiting news about their colleagues who were on the ill-fated passenger boat, returning from a working visit in Temburong.

The passenger boats are a mode of transport to and from the geographically-separated Temburong district and the rest of Brunei. The 45-minute journey takes passengers through meandering river ways lined with mangroves and other dense vegetation. Better safety standards have been introduced over the years following a spate of mishaps involving the boats.

This story was last updated at 12.03pm on September 28, 2018.