KOTA KINABALU: Bad weather is hampering search operations for the 28 China tourists and three crew members of a catamaran that went missing on a trip to Pulau Mengalum.
Sabah and Labuan Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) deputy director Rahim Ramli said Sunday that the search covers an area of about 400 sq miles.
The boat was reported missing at about 9.50pm Saturday, the first day of Chinese New Year, after sailing off from Tanjung Aru in Kota Kinabalu at about 9am.
Rahim said bad weather was hampering the search effort.
"We are looking at strong winds and choppy waters, and have requested assistance from the air force to conduct an aerial search," he said.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Ramli Din said the Royal Malaysian Police have deployed its Air Wing and Marine police in the search and rescue operation.
"We will use our resources in searching for those who have gone missing," he said.
Royal Malaysia Navy (RMN) chief Laksamana Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin tweeted that his personnel have joined the operation.
He said search and rescue efforts by the navy, police, Royal Malaysian Air Force and MMEA were launched for the missing boat.
"It is sad that it occurred during Chinese New Year," he said.