Stop now or face the law, Malaysia warns migrant boat operators

A body of an Indonesian capsized boat victim being carried by Malaysian rescuers at Hutan Melintang jetty in Perak, Malaysia on Sept 3, 2015.
A body of an Indonesian capsized boat victim being carried by Malaysian rescuers at Hutan Melintang jetty in Perak, Malaysia on Sept 3, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

HUTAN MELINTANG/IPOH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia has warned that action will be taken against boat operators and companies who transport illegal immigrants to and from Malaysia.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi warned boat operators and companies to stop immediately or be prepared to face consequences under the Anti Trafficking in Persons and Anti Smuggling of Migrants Act

"Don't just think of money, think of the human lives in your hands. Money cannot buy lives," he said at the Hutan Melintang Jetty on Friday.

A boat carrying over 70 illegal immigrants sunk off Sabak Bernam on Thursday. Fifteen people have been confirmed dead, while 40 people are still missing.

The boat is believed to have departed from the Hutan Melintang jetty early Thursday.

Nineteen survivors have been taken into custody and are being investigated, Dr Ahmad Zahid confirmed.

Meantime, a group of Indonesian nationals gathered at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital mortuary on Friday to identify the bodies retrieved from the waters.

One of them, who wished to remain anonymous, said he and the others had got to know about the incident through television news reports.

"We heard that some family members and friends had been sent to here. We came, wanting to find out whether anyone we knew is here," he said.

Search and rescue operations resumed on Friday.