Two more bodies of Indonesian boat tragedy found

Two more bodies of Indonesian boat tragedy found

SEPANG - Two more bodies have been found by fishermen off the coast of Kuala Sepang Kecil, where a boat with 27 immigrants sank last Thursday.

This brings the death toll to five and authorities are expected to hold a meeting tomorrow to discuss calling off the search and rescue operations here and in Banting, where another boat with immigrants also sank last week.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency Klang operations director Leftenan-Komander Mohamad Hambali Yaakup said the first body was found at 7.45am while the second was by local fishermen at 11am yesterday.

The bodies were severely decomposed and had been sent to the Banting Hospital for a postmortem.

Some 20 rescued illegal immigrants are now either in police custody for Immigration offences or still seeking treatment in hospitals.

On the search for the 20 victims still missing from the Banting boat mishap in Sg Langat, he said no new breakthroughs were reported in the last five-days.

"The bodies could have either decomposed and disintegrated, or the victims managed to swim to shore and have escaped," he said.

Lt-Kdr Mohamad Hambali said the searches in both Sepang and Banting have scaled down with the use of helicopters and K9 units discontinued while almost half of the over 300 officers at the beginning were still scouring the waters.

"The agency will be chairing a meeting with the police, Fire and Rescue Department, Royal Malaysian Navy and other agencies on the status of the search and whether to prolong or terminate it," he said.

Lt-Kdr Mohd Hmbali said the border authority was drawing up plans to curb the trafficking of illegal immigrants from Indonesia during the Ramadan period.

He said the agents transporting the immigrants were "smart" and have found ways to fool border authorities.

"Before, they would travel at top speed, which would be detected by our radar and allow us to intercept. But now, what we have found is that the boat will travel slowly, maybe at eight knots (14km/h). So on the radar, we do not know if that is a regular fishing boat or something else.

"Once they reach the Indonesian border, they will crank up to full speed and escape," he said.

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