KUALA LUMPUR: The death toll from a wooden boat that capsized last week with Indonesian migrant workers off Malaysia’s west coast has risen to 61, an official said on Monday. Another 20 Indonesians have been rescued.
Rescuers have retrieved the bodies of 37 men, 23 women and a young girl, said Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency official Mohamad Hambali Yaakup. Nineteen men and one woman were saved, he said.
The boat was believed to have been taking migrant workers home to Tanjung Balai in Indonesia’s Sumatra province when it sank Thursday in bad sea conditions, not far from the coast of Sabak Bernam town in central Selangor state.
Hambali said fishermen initially reported there were some 100 people crammed onto the boat.
“Search operations will continue until we are convinced there are no more new leads,” he said, adding that the last body was fished out from the sea on Sunday afternoon.
Such incidents are common in Malaysia, which has up to 2 million Indonesian migrants working illegally. The Indonesians work without permits on plantations and in other industries in Malaysia, and often travel between the two countries by crossing the narrow Strait of Malacca in poorly equipped boats.