At least ten people have lost their lives and some 30 others gone missing after a boat carrying Indonesian illegal refugee workers capsized in rough waters off the coasts of Malaysia, officials say.
According to a statement by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), the deadly incident occurred on Monday and rescue workers only managed to recover the bodies of six women and four men, which had been washed ashore in the vicinity of the east coast town of Mersing, in the southern portion of Peninsular Malaysia.
The statement further said that MMEA, however, had saved the lives of two passengers from the early morning accident and had taken them to hospital.
“We believe there were about 40 Indonesians on the boat and we believe they were illegal immigrants,” it noted, adding that the agency speculated that a combination of overloading, harsh weather and raging seas could have caused the tragedy.
A search operation, involving some 70 personnel, has already been launched for finding the passengers currently unaccounted for.
The Monday accident was the latest in a series of deadly incidents involving refugee workers packed in overloaded boats.
Last November, a motorboat carrying dozens of illegal Indonesian refugee workers hit a reef on its way back from Malaysia and sank near the Indonesian Island of Batam, south of Singapore, killing 18 of its passengers.
Eight other people lost their lives last July, when their Batam-bound boat capsized. Malaysian authorities managed to rescue 34 other passengers of the ill-fated vessel.
Early last year, Malaysian Coast Guard recovered 17 bodies after a boat carrying illegal refugees sank in the high seas.
Malaysian police recovered 17 bodies in January last year after a boat carrying illegal refugees capsized in the high seas.
A large number of Indonesians work in Malaysian firms and farms. Boat accidents are quite common in Indonesia, the world’s largest island country, with more than 17,000 islands.