BANTING: Sixty-one people have been rescued while nine bodies have been found following yesterday morning’s boat capsize about two nautical miles off Sungai Air Hitam here.
Selangor police chief Senior Deputy Comm Datuk Abdul Samah Mat confirmed that those rescued included 12 women and a five-year-old girl.
SDCP Abdul Samah said the boat, which was believed to be carrying 97 people, was thought to have capsized about an hour after leaving a jetty in Sungai Judah on Pulau Carey here.
“We believe that the boat was headed to Tanjung Balai in Sumatra,” he said at the search and rescue command centre at the Kelanang Jetty here yesterday.
SDCP Abdul Samah said two helicopters and 19 vessels, including those from the local fishermen association, were involved in the search involving 160 personnel drawn from the police, Fire and Rescue Department, Civil Defence Department and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.
He added that the authorities were still working on recovering the boat, which he said was not meant for passengers.
“Based on the size of the boat, we believe it was overloaded as it should not be carrying more than 40 persons,” he said, adding that the boat was about 6.1m in length and only 1.52m in width.
Those rescued were treated at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital while the bodies were sent to the Banting Hospital for a post-mortem.
The police was certain that all those rescued were foreigners and 30 of them were sent to the Telok Panglima Garang police station while the rest were being held at the Customs Department in Port Klang.
The police had ascertained that 29 of the 30 detainees under its charge had expired travel documents.
“We will verify if the documents are genuine, as well as whether they (detainees) were in the country legally,” he said, adding that the police were also investigating if the incident had anything to do with human trafficking.
He added that the police were still hunting for those involved in moving the foreigners.
Klang Maritime Lt-Kdr Mohd Hambali Yaakub said his department received a distress call from the Maritime Rescue Sub Centre in Johor Baru at about 12.30am yesterday.
Lt-Kdr Mohd Hambali, who is heading the search and rescue operation in Klang, said checks showed that none of those on board had proper travel documents.
“When my men got there, it is believed that several passengers had fled as they might be afraid of getting prosecuted for travelling without documents,” he said.
No cheer for boat tragedy survivors