• Thu
  • Jul 31, 2014
  • Updated: 10:07pm
NewsAsia
MALAYSIA

Nine dead, 27 missing after second boat sinks off coast of Malaysia

Boat carrying 27 Indonesians overturns a day after an overloaded vessel sank with 97 aboard

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 3:19pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 10:23pm

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

The incident Thursday 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.

That boat was packed with three times more passengers than it could safely transport, authorities said on Thursday as they expanded their search for the missing.

Maritime agency official Mohammad Zuhri said that 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.

Those on the boat that sank on Wednesday had been living and working in Malaysia illegally, and were returning to Indonesia for Ramadan, Indonesian Ambassador Herman Prayitno said at the time. 

Large numbers of Indonesians annually return home from Malaysia for Ramadan, which this year begins around the end of June and will culminate in late July with Eid al-Fitr, Islam’s biggest festival.

Both Malaysia and Indonesia are Muslim-majority.

Relatively affluent Malaysia is a magnet for migrant workers from poorer neighbours such as Indonesia, Bangladesh and Myanmar seeking low-paying plantation, construction, and factory work that is typically shunned by Malaysians.

Around two million illegal immigrants - the vast majority of them Indonesian - are estimated to be working in the country.

Accidents, however, are frequent as thousands annually risk the sea journey to and from Malaysia in rickety boats, often adding to the danger by travelling at night to avoid detection.

Additional reporting by agencies in Banting and Kuala Lumpur

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