Asia

Indonesians missing after boat sinks

  • 18 June 2014
  • From the section Asia
Malaysian search and rescue personnel on a speed boat search for passengers of a sunken boat in outskirt of Banting, Malaysia, on Wednesday, 18 June, 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Malaysian search and rescue officials have been combing the seas for survivors

At least 32 Indonesian migrants workers remain missing after a boat capsized in waters off Malaysia.

Rescue officials said five people have died, and at least 60 people have survived.

The wooden vessel sank about midnight (16:00 Tuesday) off Port Klang, near Banting in the Strait of Malacca.

The passengers, who include women and children, were illegal migrants, according to a spokesperson for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

One rescue boat has gone to the area and two more are being deployed.

Authorities also said five sea vessels and a helicopter were searching for survivors.

"We plucked some of the survivors from the sea and others were found on land," said Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency spokesman Mohamad Hambali Yaakup.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Malaysian maritime officials said the migrants were returning to Aceh province in Indonesia

Conflicting reports have emerged about the destination of the boat.

Maritime officials had initially said the passengers were believed to be trying to enter Malaysia.

Other officials said those on board were working in Malaysia illegally and were trying to return home for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"From interviews with those rescued, they said they were returning to Aceh," said Mr Hambali, adding those who were rescued did not have any travel documents.

Another maritime official Muhammad Zuri told Reuters news agency that it was "an illegal boat" that was not authorised for ocean voyages.

Thousands of Indonesians work illegally in plantations and other industries in Malaysia. They often risk dangerous sea journeys to return home.