Sabah boat tragedy: Body identified to be missing tourist

KOTA KINABALU - The body of a woman snagged by a fisherman's net in waters off Pulau Mengalum has been identified as that of Jianyi Yang.

Jianyi was one of the six missing people from the catamaran tragedy.

Sabah police commissioner Datuk Ramli Din said her family members had been notified.

"It is confirmed to be the 38-year-old woman who went missing along with her daughter," he said when contacted yesterday.

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The 10-year-old girl, three other Chinese tourists and Malaysian crewman Absoy Kasim, 26, are still missing.

Jianyi's husband was rescued and is warded at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The body, clad in red shirt and black pants, was found some 13 nautical miles (about 20km) from where the catamaran capsized on Jan 28.

The search for the others is still going on despite growing doubts that they are alive.

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Rescuers are focusing on the seabed within a 400sq nautical mile area between Pulau Mengalum and Pulau Tiga.

Ten days after the Jan 28 tragedy, with four found dead, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has asked fishermen to comb the area with their nets.

It believes the bodies could be on the seabed.

Kota Kinabalu MMEA director Laksamana Pertama Adam Aziz said the search on Monday covered some 2,000sq nautical miles between Mengalum and Miri in Sarawak.

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He said it was tough going for the more than 300 personnel due to thunderstorms and rough seas, with waves as high as 3.5m.

He said everyone was hoping for a miracle, that the five would be found alive.

"Perhaps they could have grabbed on to some driftwood. We will keep searching until we get new orders," he said after meeting representatives of the National Security Coun­cil, Navy, Air Force, police and the other agencies involved in the search yesterday.

Four of the 20 tourists who survived the tragedy returned to China early yesterday. Another two will be flying home today.

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The group of 28 tourists were heading to Pulau Mengalum to spend the Lunar New Year but the catamaran sank about an hour after departing an illegal jetty in Tanjung Aru at about 9am.

A massive search and rescue operation was launched after the sinking was reported some 12 hours later.