Boat carrying at least 70 sinks off Malaysian coast

Malaysian rescue team says at least 14 people have drowned on capsized boat

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency 1st Admiral Muhammad Aliyas Hamdan standing at podium, Selangor, Malaysia

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) confirmed that a boat carrying at least 70 people sank on Thursday off the coast of Strait of Malacca, which connects the Pacific Ocean to its eastern Indian Ocean.

Mohamad Aliyas Hamdan, the local head of the Agency said that a rescue team has been sent out and several survivors had been rescued by fishermen on the incident, Reuters reported.

Hamdan said "we have deployed 12 ships and a plane along with some 200 officers to carry out the search and rescue operation for the remaining victims.”

"We found 15 survivors of which the 15 survivors, one lady (female) and 14 males, and 14 dead bodies, dead, out of which 13 women and one male," Hamdan told about the capsized boat, which took place near the district of Sabak Bernam in Malaysia's richest state of Selangor, Reuters reported.

Rescuers carry a body recovered from a capsized boat at a jetty in Hutan Melintang in Malaysia

The bodies will be taken to hospital in Teluk Intan in the neighbouring Perak state.

According to Reuters, the nationalities of the migrants are Indonesian and based on the size of the boats, up to 100 people can fit on the boat.

"Based on the one that we rescued we believed the passengers of this boat is from Indonesia. The boat exited from Malaysia and sailed toward Tanjung Balai [Indonesia]."

"We are not sure if the migrants were attempting to land in Malaysia or trying to leave Malaysia illegally," said Hamdan and added when asked if the people were undocumented migrants "if they are legal, they would not leave [the country] that way."

The region has suffered human trafficing, as thousands of migrants, mostly from Myanmar and Bangladesh, attempt to flee to Malaysia and Thailand by boat.

In 2015, according to UN more than 1,000 migrants travelled to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

Last June a boat carrying 97 Indonesian migrants sank resulting in the death of more than a dozen people.

Malaysia, southeast Asia's third largest economy, has been a magnet for Indonesians in search of jobs.

An estimated two million undocumented migrants, mostly from Indonesia, are estimated to be working on plantations, construction sites and in factories in Malaysia.

TRTWorld and agencies