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35 missing in two boat accidents off Malaysia

Published on Jun 19, 2014 3:02 PM
Malaysian search and rescue teams carry out a search operation near the area where a boat carrying Indonesian illegal migrants sank overnight in seas off western in Banting on June 19, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian authorities on Thursday were searching for 35 people missing at sea following two boat accidents at a time when many illegal migrant workers head home to Indonesia for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

In the latest incident early Thursday, nine people were missing off western Malaysia after a boat believed to be bound for the Indonesian island of Sumatra sank near the district of Sepang, south of the capital Kuala Lumpur, The Star daily reported.

Eighteen people were rescued, it said, quoting Mr Mohamad Hambali Yaakup, an official with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).

The accident came to light as authorities expanded a search for survivors of another boat - also bound for Sumatra - that sank just up the coast with 97 Indonesians aboard early on Wednesday. Nine bodies have been found after that accident, while 26 remain missing, though officials believe some of them made it to land - the boat sank near the Malaysian shore - and fled the area to avoid being apprehended by authorities.

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