Two bodies have been recovered after a boat carrying 97 Indonesians sank off Malaysia, according to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.
Search teams and fishermen rescued 58 people, with the rest still missing, operations officer Mohd. Hambali Yaakup said by phone text message from Klang, a port city outside Kuala Lumpur. Passengers on the boat said they were heading to the Indonesian province of Aceh from Malaysia, Mohd. Hambali said.
“We are deploying assets such as helicopters, ships and boats to the area,” Mohd. Hambali said. The sinking occurred off Malaysia’s Selangor state and the search was activated at about 1 a.m. local time, he said.
The incident involving the loss of lives of foreign nationals is the latest in the Southeast Asian nation and comes more than three months after Malaysian Airline System Bhd. (MAS) Flight 370 vanished off radars en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. The hunt for the aircraft has become the longest in modern aviation history and to date, no debris from the Boeing wide-body airliner has been retrieved.
Malaysia arrested thousands of undocumented immigrants last year in a nationwide operation to track down and deport almost half a million illegal workers from countries including Indonesia and Bangladesh. About 1.3 million overstayers registered for permits during an amnesty in 2011.
Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy is clamping down on cheap illegal labor as it strives to move up the value chain from its agricultural base into more high-end manufacturing and services. Malaysia has a population of about 30 million people and the unemployment rate was at 3 percent at the end of March, according to the Statistics Department.