Deadly boat sinking: Police detain 19 survivors in Malaysia

2015-09-04 10:37
File: AP

File: AP

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Kuala Lumpur (dpa) - Police have detained 19 suspected undocumented Indonesian migrants who survived a deadly boat sinking off Malaysia that killed 15 people, a Malaysian Enforcement Agency district commander said on Friday.

Search and rescue teams were scouring the seas off Sabak Bernam town in Selangor state in search of the dozens still missing in the tragedy that occurred on Thursday, said First Admiral Aliyas Hamdan.

Aliyas said the 19 survivors, who were being held in at a town police station, would be investigated over the circumstances of the tragedy. He added that Indonesian embassy officials have met with the victims.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirmed that the survivors were taken into custody.

He warned that boat operators and companies who smuggle migrants to and form Malaysia will face the full force of the law.

"Think of the human lives in your hands," he said in a press briefing. "Money cannot buy lives."

Survivors

The 40-feet long wooden boat was believed to be carrying some 70 Indonesians when it sank about 30km off Sabak Bernam, Aliyas said.

Survivors told rescuers that the boat was battered by huge waves, causing it to tilt on one side before it sank, according to Aliyas. He added that survivors said the boat was overloaded.

Aliyas said the initial death toll of 16 was lowered to 15 because of a case of "double counting". He said the fatalities included 13 women and two men.

He said people aboard the boat were undocumented Indonesian migrants who had come to work in Malaysia and were returning to their hometown.

"If they are legal migrants, they wouldn't take risk riding in these kinds of vessels," Aliyas said.

A fire and rescue department official who asked not to be named said it would be very difficult to ascertain the actual number of people in the boat as those who survived would hide from the authorities because they know that they are illegal migrants.

Indonesians comprise more than half of the estimated 1.5 million undocumented workers in Malaysia.

Read more on:    indonesia  |  malaysia  |  migrants

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