Ship Carrying 97 Indonesian Sinks Off Malaysian Waters

JAKARTA ~

A ship carrying 97 Indonesians sank off Air Hitam river, Selangor Malaysia, on Tuesday night, Information Director from Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry Sofia Sudarma said on Wednesday.

55 people including 41 men, 12 women and two children had been rescued by the rescue team and local fishermen, according to local newspaper New Straits Times, while the rest were still missing. . Meanwhile, five Indonesians were found dead and their identities are now still being verified.

The 97 Indonesians were illegal immigrants who embarked at Kampung Air Hitam (Malaysia) heading to Aceh province (Indonesia).

Earlier Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Director for Indonesian Citizen Protection Tatang Budhie Razak said the receding waters made it hard for the search and rescue team’s ship to reach the location of the sinking ship. Rescue would be resumed as soon as possible.

Indonesian Consulate General in Johor area, Malaysia, was handling the case. All surviving victims were being evacuated to a police station in Teluk Garang area for further investigation.

It quoted Southern region Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) operations director Captain Ibrahim Mohamed as saying that the boat was believed to be heading for Aceh, Indonesia.

“MMEA have sent a ship, three boats and a helicopter to the location involving 35 officers and personnel and we are also assisted by other enforcement authorities including the Fire and Rescue Department, marine police and Civil Defense Department,” he said.

Meanwhile, the local English language newspaper The Star also quoted police sources as saying that the boat did not capsize, as initially believed, but that a leak in the vessel caused it to sink.

Deputy Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Hermono remarked that the Indonesian embassy still collecting comprehensive information about the incident, especially the fate of the passengers, the location of their departure, and destinations.

Indonesian Ambassador Herman Prayitno along with an embassy team arrived at the location of the incident to gather information.

“Ambassador Herman has also asked the Malaysian maritime agency to find those who are still missing,” he added.

The embassy had expressed concern over the incident and has requested Indonesian migrant workers having no valid documents to avoid taking illegal routes to go home as it is dangerous.

“We have always appealed to them to avoid using unsafe routes as they may threaten their lives,” Hermono stated.

Herman urged the workers without a valid working permit to be patient and not return home using unsafe methods, such as a small boat with passengers surpassing its capacity.

In a bid to tackle the problem, the Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are making efforts to legally and safely return the illegal migrant workers back home.

The Malaysian government is chalking out an affordable deportation program.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian authorities are working in tandem with the Malaysian immigration authorities to immediately return the rescued passengers.

Many Indonesian workers in Malaysia usually return home for the post-Islamic fasting holiday of Idul Fitri.

Filed under: Headlines

Comments are closed.