KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 — Prompt action by a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) C-130H surveillance aircraft prevented 200 Rohingya in a boat from entering the country illegally yesterday.

The C-130H from the Subang Air Base, piloted by Major Faizul Hussein, was on aerial patrol in the waters of Langkawi when it spotted the boat heading towards Malaysian waters at 10.30am.

RMAF, in a statement, said the boat, carrying about 200 Rohingya, was detected 70 nautical miles west of Pulau Langkawi.

‘‘RMAF immediately contacted the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) ships KD Lekiu and KD Lekir, which rushed to the scene.

‘‘KD Lekiu and KD Lekir intercepted the boat with the assistance of an RMN Super Lynx helicopter and prevented it from entering the country’s territorial waters,’’ said the statement.

The statement said it was feared that this group of foreigners might bring Covid-19 into the country.

“However, on humanitarian grounds, the crew of KD Lekiu distributed food to the foreigners before escorting their boat out of the country’s waters.

“This (success) is the result of integrated efforts involving RMAF, RMN and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, especially in protecting the country’s maritime security and sovereignty,” it said.

“Such aerial maritime surveillance operations will be intensified,” it added. — Bernama