|Sunken Malaysia boat was massively overloaded: govt
The boat that sank off Malaysia with 97 Indonesian illegal migrants was likely carrying three times more passengers than it could safely transport, authorities said Thursday as they expanded a search for 26 still missing.
Nine bodies have been found after the vessel, overloaded with people heading home to Indonesia for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, sank early Wednesday not far from shore off western Malaysia.
Sixty-two people have been rescued and officials believe some of the 26 still missing made it to land and fled the area to avoid being apprehended by police.
Authorities said the boat was believed to measure no more than nine meters long and two meters wide.
"The boat is too small to ferry 97 people. The boat must have been very cramped,'' said Mohamad Zuhri, spokesman for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).
Mohamad said the capacity of a boat of such dimensions was about 30 passengers.
On Thursday, divers were deployed, more vessels brought in and the search zone expanded along the coast in hope of finding more survivors, said Mohamad Hambali Yaakup, coordinator of the response for the MMEA.
"We have deployed divers and a total of 25 marine craft and a helicopter to sweep the coastal area for possible survivors,'' he said.
The incident occurred at night near Port Klang, the country's main seaport.
Hambali said the divers would try to determine what caused the boat to sink and to view any markings that would help identify the boat's owner and operator. --AFP