Child fatality at Panaga beach shelter area
On the evening of Friday January 11th, 2013 at approximately 7:39pm, a child fell of a log while playing when the tide came in near the Panaga beach shelter area. The child tragically passed away as a result of multiple traumas including serious head injuries caused by the force of the moving log in water.
Target audience for this alert
On the evening of Friday January 11th at approximately 7:39pm an incident occurred at the Panaga Beach shelter area, Belait District, Brunei. Following a gathering hosted by the Dutch community on Panaga beach, 4 children were standing on a 5 meter long, 38cm diameter, 590 kg log. The log was partially buried in wet sand that was being splashed by the incoming tide. At this point the log was stuck in the sand and stable. As more water came in, the log gained sufficient buoyancy to float unexpectedly. Three of the children jumped backwards off the log in the direction of the beach shelter, the fourth child slipped or jumped and fell forwards off the log, sea wards. The receding sea carried the log over the child. Despite immediate rescue and resuscitation efforts the child tragically passed away as a result of multiple traumas including serious head injuries caused by the force of the moving log.
Why it happened
The immediate causes of the incident:
- Impact and weight of the log rolling over the child
- Sudden movement of the log due to its release from the wet sand and the momentum of the receding wave
Underlying causes of the incident:
- Knowledge and appreciation was missing within the Panaga community with respect to the hazard and potential consequences of being on or near logs stuck in wet sand because they can and will suddenly become buoyant and lethal with an incoming tide.
- Be aware of the risk of logs in wet sand because they can and will suddenly become buoyant and lethal with an incoming tide.
- Do not climb up onto logs on the beach. While they look heavy and sturdy when climbing on them, the smallest wave will roll it over you or a child.
- The ocean is strong enough to pick up even the biggest log and plop it down on top of you. Some logs may look small, but even the tiny ones can be waterlogged and weigh tons.
- How to play it safe: If you see a log in the surf, on or in wet sand, stay off it and away from it.
- Beach safety can often be overlooked; eye witnesses interviewed stated that their perception was of a very benign environment at the time of the incident