Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

32 missing after boat capsizes

Scores of people are missing after a boat carrying Indonesians sank off the coast of Malaysia
Scores of people are missing after a boat carrying Indonesians sank off the coast of Malaysia

A wooden boat carrying Indonesians home in a storm sank in choppy seas off Malaysia's west coast early today, leaving 32 people missing and five dead, Malaysian officials said.

At least 60 people survived.

The boat capsized shortly after midnight about two nautical miles off Kuala Lumpur while trying to leave Malaysia illegally for Aceh province in Indonesia, maritime agency official Mohamad Hambali Yaakup said.

Tens of thousands of Indonesians work without legal permits in plantations and other industries in Malaysia, and they travel between the countries by crossing the narrow Strait of Malacca, often in poorly equipped boats.

The passengers in the boat that sank were believed to be heading home before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Survivors were rescued at sea and found on land after swimming to safety; they included 12 women and a child. Those dead were a woman and four men.

The survivors were being questioned by police and immigration authorities, and Indonesian embassy officials were also on the scene. A rescue department photo showed about two dozen survivors, who had little belongings with them, sitting outside a building.

A ship, eight boats and a helicopter were searching for further survivors.

Rescuers were seen recovering a body from sea, laying the dead onto a boat deck and carrying a body ashore in Pantai Kelanang, near the sinking.

Police Superintendent Azman Abdul Razak said 100 people were involved in the rescue effort.

Authorities are still investigating why the boat sank but rough seas and an overloaded boat could have been factors. Some survivors also claimed the boat was leaking, he said, and police told local media the boat capsized during a storm.

The boat's capacity was 50-60 people, but it was believed to be carrying 97.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz