MIRI - Six of eight people on board an ill-fated longboat which collided with a barge in the Kemena River near Bintulu town have been found dead.
One is still missing as at press time.
The boat pilot and seven passengers were crossing the river about 5km from Bintulu town at about 5.30pm on Tuesday when the vessel suffered engine problems, Kidurong state assemblyman Chiew Ching Sing said.
"The boat was swept by strong waves and it hit a barge before it capsized.
"All on board were thrown into the river. The pilot managed to swim ashore," he said.
He said the passengers comprised three adults and four children.
They were believed to be Ibans who were out to celebrate the Gawai festival.
The Bintulu Fire and Rescue Department deployed search and rescue teams to the site and the bodies were recovered between last night and yesterday.
"The rescuers are searching the river and the banks hoping to find the other body," he said.
Chiew said the section of the river was very wide and busy with barges, speedboats, express boats and the smaller longboats.
"The river is also very deep and the current and waves very turbulent."
The recovered bodies have been sent to the Bintulu hospital mortuary.