PORT KLANG - As at 3.45pm Wednesday, 60 people have been rescued, five found dead, and 32 still missing from a boat that sunk near the Kuala Sungai Langat estuary.
The vessel, with 97 passengers on board, was attempting to travel to Aceh, Indonesia illegally.
Klang Maritime Lieutenant Commander Mohd Hambali Yaakub said they had no knowledge of the Indonesia-bound boat until they received a distress call from the Maritime Rescue Sub Center (MRSC) Johor Bahru at about 12.30am.
Checks on the rescued victims revealed all to be Indonesians, with none in possession of proper documents, said Mohd Hambali, who is heading the search and rescue operation in Klang.
"It is believed several passengers had fled the scene by the time my men got there, as they were afraid they would be prosecuted for not having any documents," he said.
Mohd Hambali said the rescued victims have been sent to the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah hospital for medical treatment.
He identified three possibilities why the boat sunk.
"Firstly, the boat could have be overloaded, or it could have hit an object. The third possibility is sea conditions," he said, adding that the sea was rough at the time of the incident.
He also said chances of survival was slim without a life vest, and was unlikely to survive for more than 24 hours.
A total of 96 members from the Maritime Department, Malaysian Civil Defence Department, Police, Fire and Rescue Department and Kuala Langat local council are involved in the for the search and rescue operation, while eight boats, one boat and a helicopter have been deployed.