14 dead as boat crammed with migrants capsizes while on way to Indonesia
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – A wooden boat crammed with migrant workers who were headed back to Indonesia capsized Thursday off Malaysia’s western coast, leaving at least 14 people dead, a maritime official said.
The boat was believed to be carrying 70 people and not 100 as reported earlier by fishermen, said First Adm. Mohamad Aliyas Hamdan, the district chief of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.
He said that 13 women and one man are confirmed to have died, and 19 people have been rescued.
Agency official Mohamad Hambali Yaakup said the boat sank in bad sea conditions not far from the coast and several vessels and an aircraft were searching for survivors near the coastal town of Sabak Bernam in the central Selangor state
Mohamad Hambali said the boat was believed to have been taking migrant workers home to Tanjung Balai in Indonesia’s Sumatra province. It was likely to have been overcrowded when it sank, he said.
Such incidents are common in Malaysia, which has up to 2 million Indonesian migrants working illegally in the country.
The Indonesians work without legal permits in plantations and other industries in Malaysia, and often travel between the countries by crossing the narrow Strait of Malacca in poorly equipped boats.