Saturday, 3 August 2013

Rescuers yet to find more survivors of capsized boat off Johor coast

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has yet to find any survivors or bodies of the 40 people who were onboard a boat which sank off Tanjung Siang in Sedili Besar here on Thursday night.

MMEA Maritime Commander Amran Daud said they feared the worst when the search and rescue operations failed to find any traces of the passengers over the past two days.

The boat carrying 44 Indonesians including women and children, en route to Batam in Indonesia for the Hari Raya festival, capsized at 12.7 nautical miles off Tanjung Siang at 10pm on August 1.

Four men, aged between 26 and 31, were rescued about 15 hours after the boat capsized.

Amran said the bad weather and choppy waters due to the approaching northeast monsoon season made the task harder.

Amran said the boat was believed to be carrying the people illegally out of the country.

"The four survivors are still traumatised and we are trying to locate and identify the tekong (skipper) of the boat for further investigations," he said.

Amran said the operation was also carried out jointly with help from the Royal Malaysian Navy, the Marine police and the Royal Malaysian Air Force.

Malaysia is a hot spot for thousands of illegal workers from poorer neighbouring countries.

It is thought the Indonesians travelled by boat in order to bypass border controls on their way home.

Two ships, four speedboats and two helicopters are involved in the search for survivors, an official with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) told the AFP news agency.

It is the second incident in Malaysian waters in two weeks after one woman drowned and 27 were rescued when a boat sank on 18 July.

Shipping accidents off Malaysia's coast are relatively common as illegal migrants try to find work in the relatively affluent country.

It is also a key transit hub for asylum seekers fleeing unrest in their own countries, such as in Burma (Myanmar).

The authorities are trying to clamp down on the number of people entering the country illegally by stepping up patrols and stopping boatmen from taking bribes.

Saturday 3 August 2013


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