Boat sinks off Malaysia killing at least 11 Indonesian migrants

Search under way for 25 missing people after 14 survivors and boat found on a beach in Tanjung Balau.

Officials inspect a boat that capsized off Malaysia's Johar state [Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency/Handout via Reuters]

At least 11 Indonesian migrants have drowned off the southern coast of peninsular Malaysia after their vessel capsized.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and the country’s navy said 25 people were missing after 14 survivors and the boat were found on a beach in Tanjung Balau.

The MMEA said the boat capsized at about 4:30am on Wednesday (23:30 GMT Tuesday) off the coast of Johor state, which borders Singapore and sits across the Strait of Malacca, one of the world’s busiest maritime trade conduits, from Indonesia.

“The boat was believed to have travelled from Indonesia and capsized after being hit by strong waves,” Johor maritime operations deputy director Captain Simon Templer Lo Ak Tusa told reporters.

All those on the vessel were Indonesian, the MMEA said.

A capsized vessel being brought onto shore [Handout/Malaysian Armed Forces via AFP]

The accident is the latest in a string of disasters recorded in the waterways between Indonesia and Malaysia in recent years, often involving overloaded boats ferrying labourers seeking work in Malaysian factories and plantations.

According to Anis Hidayah of Migrant CARE, a Jakarta-based non-government organisation, between 100,000 and 200,000 Indonesians travel illegally to Malaysia each year for work, many of them recruited by trafficking gangs and subjected to exploitation when they arrive.

“They travel to Malaysia by boat and there are so many accidents because they depart at night and arrive early in the morning,” she told the Reuters news agency, adding boats often stop before reaching land to avoid detection and require those on board to swim ashore.

People search Tanjung Balau beach after a boat carrying migrants capsized [Royal Malaysian Army/Handout via Reuters]
Source: News Agencies