Capsized barge towed to Malaysian waters as search for crew continues

A barge that capsized with 15 crew on board in waters near Pedra Branca lighthouse (pictured) was towed to shore on Thursday, May 21, 2015, even as the search for missing crew members continues.  -- PHOTO: ST FILE
A barge that capsized with 15 crew on board in waters near Pedra Branca lighthouse (pictured) was towed to shore on Thursday, May 21, 2015, even as the search for missing crew members continues.  -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE- A barge that capsized with 15 crew on board in Singapore waters was towed to shore on Thursday, even as the search for missing crew members continues.

In a statement, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said 14 crew members - 13 Chinese nationals and one Malaysian - remain unaccounted for.

The Bolivian-registered sand-carrier, Oceanline SC208, had capsized near the Pedra Branca lighthouse - the easternmost point of Singapore - on Wednesday morning with 15 men on board.

One of them, a Chinese national, was picked up by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Wednesday, who said he was "very safe" and had been handed over to his company.

The capsized vessel drifted into Malaysian waters overnight and was towed to sheltered waters yesterday, said the MPA.

The Straits Times understands the owner of the vessel had engaged a tug boat to pull it back to shore.

The MMEA told The Straits Times search and rescue operations for missing crew members were halted on Wednesday at 6pm and resumed at 7am on Thursday.

Six vessels were deployed for the job, it added.

In the meantime, vessels from the MPA, the Republic of Singapore Navy and the Singapore Police Coast Guard are continuing to look for the men in Singapore waters.

"MPA is also contacting transiting merchant vessels to keep a lookout for missing persons and to report any sightings to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Singapore," said the agency.

Navigational broadcasts on the search and rescue operations are also ongoing, MPA said.

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