GEORGE TOWN: Eight crew members of a barge have been rescued from a sinking vessel at the Penang-Kedah sea border near Kuala Muda, Kedah.
Penang Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) director Kapten Maritime Abd Razak Mohamed said the crew members – four Thai and four Indonesian nationals aged between 31 and 51 – were on their way from Kantang in Thailand to Penang.
"The barge did not have any leaks at the bottom of the keel, but on arrival at Langkawi, a compartment at the rear (port) was flooded with seawater during bad weather and appeared to tilt to the left.
"The tugboat and barge arrived five nautical miles from buoy No. 4 of Penang Harbour at 6am on Monday (Jan 30) and the skipper realised that water had entered the vessel," he said.
Kapt Abd Razak said the barge skipper then decided to tow the boat to shallow waters at the Kuala Muda estuary to save it, after obtaining permission from the Penang Marine Department.
He said the barge was forcefully run aground at Kuala Muda and water was pumped out starting at 9.35am on Monday (Jan 30) and finishing at 8am on Tuesday (Jan 31).
He said the MMEA boat also helped to pump out the water on Monday and deployed a boat to Kuala Muda to monitor the towing of the barge on Tuesday.
"The vessel and its crew are expected to arrive at Penang Port at about midnight on Tuesday," he said.
He said the public can contact the MMEA for complaints of maritime offences at sea or emergencies at its hotline at 04-262 6146 or MERS 999.