Kayakasia on ‘safety time-out’ after capsized kayaker says she nearly drowned

Scene of kayak incident. Photo: Frieda Ruiz via Singapore Marine Guide/Facebook
Scene of kayak incident. Photo: Frieda Ruiz via Singapore Marine Guide/Facebook

Update: Kayakasia says the period for suspension of activities is not fixed and could be extended.

A kayaking tour operator today suspended activities for 12 days after six kayakers capsized in three boats off Sentosa Island, injuring one. 

Kayakasia, which offers scenic kayaking tours in Singapore’s southern islands, announced that it was taking a time-out to review safety processes and retrain tour guides after Monday’s harrowing incident that took place near floating sea barriers. Kayakasia described it as a “troublesome” spot near the tourist island. Those who fell into the water were rescued and taken to a nearby recreation center. 

“This was the first time we had a capsize involving so many guests,” its online statement said. “As we can’t 100% eliminate capsizes, the kayak guides are trained to response to capsizes quickly. And this is an example that we have to continue to keep skills to high standards.”

Cheng Geng Xin recounted the incident in which her boat overturned, causing her to be “sucked underwater” while trying to save others tossed into the sea. She was taken to the Singapore General Hospital after the rescue with cuts, abrasions, and bruises on her body, including her face, according to photos she shared.

“I almost lost my life, multiple times today,” she said, adding: “I struggled to kick away and float up but the current seemed to criss-cross and spiral to pull me down even further. As I managed to break free, It took not long for me to be pulled back in again as I could not swim away from the barrels due to the rapid flow. I almost died, 4 bloody times.”

Kayakasia said it covered all medical expenses for victims affected by the Sentosa-Lazarus expedition. After this article was published, Kayakasia told Coconuts that the 12-day period of suspension could be “extended, but it gives us an initial time to go through the processes given we can only meet one person for training at any one day in [Heightened Alert] phase.”

Cheng did not immediately respond to messages from Coconuts.

A video of the incident at least one kayaker in the water away from an empty boat as both are pushed by strong currents while emergency responders watch from the beach.

According to Kayakasia, the guests were rescued within 30 minutes and put aboard a passing Maritime Port Authority boat, which carried them to the nearby One15 Marina recreation center. 

“We are so sorry to our guests who didn’t have a good time and also suffered those cuts and bruises by those blue barrels,” Kayakasia said. “We have been in daily contact with them, refunded them, paid their medical expenses, and also helping some of them to book for another trip with us.”

Cheng is said to have been discharged from the hospital. 

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