[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Malaysian ferry sinks in remote Borneo river

At least 21 missing after overloaded vessel carrying people to upcoming indigenous Dayak people festival capsizes.

Last Modified: 28 May 2013 13:06
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Survivors of an overturned ferry accident are seen on a riverbank of Malaysia's Borneo [AFP]

An overloaded ferry has capsized after it hit rocks in a remote river in Malaysia's Borneo, leaving at least 21 people missing, Malaysian police say.

The vessel was believed to be carrying much more than its recommended limit of 74 passengers when it sank in the Rajang River on Tuesday, Bakar Sibau, a district police chief in Sarawak state, said.

"An express boat carrying about 100 people has capsized in a swift-flowing river. I believe there were women and children onboard," he said.

He said the boat was believed to have struck a rock while navigating  downstream from Belaga through one of many sections of rapids on the 560km waterway.

"The boat was overloaded," Sibau said.

Malaysia's Borneo island

Abdul Halim Abdullah, the state government's local administrator for Belaga, told AFP news agency the boat capsized downstream from the town as it was headed towards the coast.

"Around 21 people have not been accounted for," he said.

The boat was ferrying passengers travelling for the upcoming Gawai festival, one of the most important festivals celebrated each year by Sarawak's indigenous Dayak people.

Police rescuers were heading towards the accident site, Bakar said, adding that he had no information on any casualties.

The location of the accident is deep in the wild and sparsely populated interior of Sarawak, the country's largest state and one of two Malaysian states located on Borneo.

The Sun newspaper had earlier quoted another Sarawak official as saying 20 to 30 people may be trapped in the vessel.

"We suspect 20 to 30 passengers may be trapped inside the boat which capsized at about 9:00 am [local time]," said Liwan Lagang, state assemblyman for Belaga and an assistant Sarawak state tourism minister.

Borneo island is divided among three countries: Indonesian territory in the south, two Malaysian states in the north and tiny Brunei on the north coast.

325

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.