MMEA rescues 75 Indonesian immigrants from sinking boat

Selangor MMEA Director Maritime Captain Mohammad Rosli Kassim said the wooden boat was believed to have left Sungai Air Hitam near Pulau Carey at around 5am heading to Tanjung Balai, Indonesia. — Picture by Dawn Chin
Selangor MMEA Director Maritime Captain Mohammad Rosli Kassim said the wooden boat was believed to have left Sungai Air Hitam near Pulau Carey at around 5am heading to Tanjung Balai, Indonesia. — Picture by Dawn Chin

PORT KLANG, Aug 6 — Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) today rescued 75 immigrants from Indonesia from drowning when the wooden boat they were in was on the brink of sinking due to a leak near its engine section at 2.8 nautical miles from Sungai Kurau, here today.

Selangor MMEA Director, Maritime Captain Mohammad Rosli Kassim, said the wooden boat measuring 8.8 metres and carrying the immigrants was believed to have left Sungai Air Hitam near Pulau Carey at around 5am heading to Tanjung Balai, Indonesia.

“Maritime detected the boat at around 7am. We were at the location providing assistance to a local fishing boat at that time.

“We got suspicious when we saw the wooden boat tilting to its side and moving slowly in the high tide. The boat was stopped and checks found 75 immigrants including three children in the boat,” he told a media conference, here today.

He said the immigrants detained comprised 49 men and 23 women aged between 20 and 52 years old and three children aged between one and seven.

Also arrested were three crew members of the boat who were also Indonesian citizens.

He said investigation found that the immigrants mostly worked as labourers, cleaners and hotel workers.

Mohammad Rosli said that the wooden boat, the size of a local Class A fishing boat, could only carry a maximum of five individuals.

“The modus operandi of the skipper is to bring back the immigrants to their home country. He had been promised RM1,700 for payment and he will only get paid once they reached Indonesia.

“The wooden boat is suspected to have started leaking from the beginning and it worsened due to the overload. The boat sank right after all immigrants were safely moved to the maritime boat,” he said.

He also said that initial investigation found that the immigrants had paid RM800 per person to an agent to go back to Indonesia to celebrate the upcoming Hari Raya Aidiladha this weekend.

The authorities are currently looking for the agent who is believed to be an Indonesian residing in Malaysia.

Mohammad Rosli said all the immigrants arrested are being investigated under the Immigration Act 1959/63 and Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007. — Bernama

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