Second ship capsizes off Malaysia

EILEEN NG
Last updated 19:40 19/06/2014

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Nine people were missing after another boat carrying 27 Indonesians overturned early Thursday off Malaysia’s west coast, the country’s maritime agency said, in the second such recent incident. 

The incident came just a day after an overcrowded wooden boat carrying Indonesian illegal immigrants home sank in choppy seas, with 25 people still missing. Ten people died in that accident, but at least 62 people survived. 

Maritime agency official Mohammad Zuhri said the second boat capsized early Thursday off Sepang town on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. He said 18 people, including four women, were rescued by passing merchant ships but nine others are still missing. 

The boat was believed to have been headed to Tanjung Balai in Indonesia’s Sumatra island, he 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. 

On Wednesday, a boat with 97 Indonesians capsized about 2 nautical miles (3.7 kilometres) from shore on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur while trying to leave Malaysia illegally for Aceh province in Indonesia. 

District maritime official Mohamad Hambali Yaakup said several dozen vessels and a helicopter were scouring the area Thursday to find the 25 missing people. 

Survivors were rescued at sea and found on land after swimming to safety. They included 12 women and a child. A woman and nine men were among the dead. 

Indonesian Ambassador Herman Prayitno told local media late Wednesday that the immigrants in the boat to Aceh had paid up to RM1,200 ($373) each for the trip back to Indonesia ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He said the boat was overloaded. 

‘‘It is a sad tragedy,’’ he said. ‘‘Many of them were in the country illegally as their tourist visas had expired and they had overstayed. They were finding work here but were on their way back to Indonesia for Ramadan.’’ 

Such incidents are common in Malaysia, which has up to 2 million illegal Indonesian migrants.


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- AP

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