JOHOR BAHRU, March 27 — The search and rescue (SAR) operation to look for nine missing crew members of the capsized sand-dredging vessel, JBB Rong Chang 8, was expanded today.
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Southern Region deputy director (Operations), Maritime Capt Sanifah Yusof said the search area was expanded to 560 sq nautical miles from 400 sq nautical miles yesterday.
“Today, the search area is expanded to 560 (sq) nautical miles from the waters off Batu Pahat to the waters off Pulau Besar in Melaka.
“However, the number of SAR team members and assets involved are still the same, namely 250 people from various agencies as well as six boats, four ships and a helicopter,” he told a press conference here today.
Sanifah said no victims were found as of late this afternoon despite the SAR operation having entered its seventh day.
Help from the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) of Indonesia was still being sought to locate victims who might have been swept into the waters off the republic, he said.
Meanwhile, Sanifah said the SAR operations centre at Pantai Leka in Parit Jawa, Muar was relocated to the Batu Pahat MMEA Office to facilitate monitoring work.
However, the coordination of the SAR operation was still being conducted through the Maritime Rescue Sub Centre in Johor Bahru, he said.
When asked if there were instances of victims rescued by merchant ships passing through the area, Sanifah did not rule out the possibility.
“That route in the Strait of Melaka is busy. So, that could have happened. However, if that were to happen, the merchant ships would have definitely informed us,” he said.
The sand-dredger, carrying 18 crew members including one Malaysian, capsized in waters off Parit Jawa on March 21.
Five were rescued while four bodies were found. Two of the dead have yet to be identified. Nine are still missing. — Bernama