A sad story of a young selfless teacher who sacrificed her life to save her colleagues from a fire.
A minute’s silence was observed at the 27th state-level Teacher’s Day ceremony held in Betong yesterday (July 25) in honour of the heroic 25-year-old teacher, Catherine Janet Tiwi, who died trying to save two of her colleagues in a fire which broke out in the teacher’s quarters at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Batu Bungan, Mulu earlier that morning.
According to Borneo Post, the ceremony was officiated by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He also announced the setting up of a fund to help Catherine’s family and other victims of the fire. The state government will allocate RM50,000 to start the fund.
Sarawak Education Department director Rakayah Madon broke down during the ceremony when she recalled Catherine’s selfless act in her speech.
“I have lost my teacher,” she said as she struggled to regain her composure to continue her speech.
Source: Malay Mail
According to Marudi police chief DSP Gabriel Risut, Catherine had already escaped the building but chose to rush back to save her colleagues who were still trapped in the fire.
“There was a blackout and shortly after that, the fire broke out. In the chaotic situation, Catherine went back inside and tried to save the two teachers from one of the rooms but found herself trapped and could not escape,” he said.
Her two colleagues managed to escape the building. One of them suffered 22 per cent burns and was airlifted by a medical emergency evacuation (Medivac) helicopter to Miri Hospital, while the other was sent to a clinic in Mulu to treat the light burns on her feet.
Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) Miri chief Supt Law Poh Kiong said Catherine’s body was found in the living room.
Source: Sarawak Voice
The fire was believed to have started at about 5am from the kitchen before spreading quickly to other areas of the quarters. The firemen from the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Mulu Airport arrived at the scene at 5.40am and managed to put out the fire at 6.34am.
Law said further investigations are being carried out to determine the cause of the fire.
Source: Berita Harian
Catherine, a Bidayuh from Bau, had been teaching at SK Penghulu Baya Mallang in Apoh, Baram for over a year. She was at SK Batu Bungan to attend a five-day Primary School Evaluation Test (UPSR) motivation camp when the tragic incident happened.
According to NST, Catherine’s father, Tiwi Nios, who is a fireman, is having a hard time accepting his daughter’s death.
The Senior Fire and Rescue Officer II, who has years of experience in handling fire cases, had completely lost his willpower when he received a call from a Marudi Fire and Rescue personnel about the devastating news.
“I was momentarily stunned when was told that my daughter, Catherine Janet had perished in the fire.”
“Initially, I refused to believe what I had just heard but had to accept the fact, as I had faced similar other incidents. I cannot believe that this had happened to my daughter,” he said.
It was reported that Catherine had contacted her mother at 6pm the evening before the tragic incident.
“My wife said that during their conversation, Catherine sounded very happy and joked around with her.”
The deceased’s body is expected to be flown back to Bau today (July 26) as soon as the post-mortem is completed.
This is truly a heartbreaking incident. We will never forget the kind Catherine, who courageously sacrificed herself to save her colleagues. Our deepest condolences go out to Catherine’s family.
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