KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 — The catamaran that capsized while ferrying 28 Chinese nationals had departed from the Tanjung Aru jetty in Kota Kinabalu without authorisation, according to a Sabah assistant minister.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming said the vessel operator did not have permission to use the particular jetty for the trip that ended with at least three passengers dead and six people still missing.
“The departure of the boat from that particular jetty is not allowed. Maybe the operator took into consideration the traffic conditions from the main jetty like Jesselton Point which forced them to leave from here.
“The operators have violated the laws for their own convenience,” he was quoted as saying by the Utusan Malaysia newspaper.
In the accident on Saturday morning, the boat with 31 people comprising three crew members and 28 China nationals were on their way to Mengalum island when their catamaran was damaged by bad weather conditions some eight nautical miles from their destination.
The catamaran eventually capsized and all the passengers were adrift at sea. At press time, 22 people have been rescued, three people — two male and one female — have been confirmed dead while six are still missing.
Two boat crew — Sharezza Salian, 25 and Aman Abdul, 38 were found at about 3.00pm yesterday near Pulau Tiga, some 53km away from its original destination.
Pang also dismissed rumours that the boat capsized due to the overloading of passengers and said the vessel was rated for a capacity of up to 40 passengers.
He also said the boat had proper equipment and adequate safety procedures.