Update: At least 24 people have died and dozens are missing after a wooden boat carrying up to 80 people capsized off the western coast of Malaysia on Thursday.
The local authorities have confirmed an overcrowded vessel capsized off country’s western coast, killing 24 people including 19 women. The incident occurred early on Thursday near the coastal town of Sabak Bernam in central Selangor state. The recovered bodies have been taken to a public hospital Teluk Intan in neighboring Perak state.
The rescue workers were searching for dozens of migrants’ still missing hours after their wooden ferry disappeared beneath the waves. The individuals on the boat are believed to be illegal workers returning to Indonesia.
“Local fishermen have rescued 15 people and fished out 14 bodies, 13 women and one man,” said Mohamad Aliyas Hamdan, head of the Malaysian Maritime. “We have deployed 12 ships and a plane long with some 200 officers to carry out the search and rescue operation for the remaining victims,” he added.
After the deployment of ships, the rescue volunteers found 10 more corpses in the deep sea. In addition, another 20 survivors have been rescued.
The Southeast Asia’s third largest economy has been a magnet for Indonesians in search of jobs. About two million people work in Malaysia illegally, most of them from Indonesia. The illegal migrants cross the narrow strip of water between the two countries in barely seaworthy vessels.
Maritime accidents are frequent as thousands attempt the sea crossing to seek low-paying jobs on plantations, construction sites and in factories. Last June more than a dozen people drowned when an overloaded boat carrying 97 Indonesian migrants heading home for Ramadan sank in rough waters off western Malaysia.
South East Asia witnessed a migrant crisis earlier this year when Thai security forces cracked down on human traffickers. This prompted thousand of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar to attempt dangerous crossings in rickety boats. IMAGE/independent.co.uk