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Death Toll Exceeds 60 in Malaysia Boat Disaster

Hata Wahari
2015-09-09
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Malaysian police prepare to lift bodies of victims of a boat accident, off the deck of a fishing vessel moored in Hutang Melintang, Perak state, Sept. 3, 2015.
Malaysian police prepare to lift bodies of victims of a boat accident, off the deck of a fishing vessel moored in Hutang Melintang, Perak state, Sept. 3, 2015.
Courtesy of Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA)

The 12.2-metre (40-foot) boat that capsized off western Malaysia last week was carrying more than five times its passenger capacity, First Adm. Mohd. Aliyas Hamdan of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) told BenarNews on Tuesday.

Authorities had yet to call off their search after finding a man’s body late in the afternoon Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 63.

"The boat can only accommodate 12 to 15 people, but carried more than 80 persons. Action should be taken against those responsible," Aliyas said.

The victims of the accident were believed to be Indonesians working in Malaysia without permits and traveling home for the Idul Adha holiday. The boat was sailing from Kuala Sungai Bernam in Selangor to Tanjungbalai, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, when it sank in bad weather off Selangor’s Sabak Bernam district.

To date, the dead consist of 39 men, 23 women and a three-year-old girl.

One of the women was pregnant, said Mohd. Zain Mohd. Shuhaily, police chief of Hilir Perak district, in neighboring Perak state, where many of the dead were taken. The bodies of 22 other victims were taken to Kuala Lumpur Hospital for autopsies, he said.

Over the weekend, relatives of victims claimed the remains of loved ones at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital (HRPB) in Perak. The Indonesian embassy was helping Malaysian officials arrange for the remains of a handful of victims to be repatriated.

Searching for captain

Meanwhile, 20 survivors were still being detained as part of a criminal investigation into the disaster, Aliyas said.

Malaysian authorities have yet to identify the captain of the ill-fated boat.

None of the 20 survivors confessed to being the skipper, he said.

“The investigation is ongoing and we will contact their employers to identify those who survived,” Aliyas said.

"MMEA will undoubtedly be able to identify them.”

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