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Annual home trip a risky journey for Indonesian illegal migrants

Published on Jun 20, 2014 9:47 AM
A Malaysian search and rescue team helps a rescued victim (centre) from a capsized boat in Kelanang Jetty, near Banting after an apparently overloaded boat carrying Indonesian illegal migrants sank in seas off western Malaysia on June 19, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Packed to the brim, rickety vessels called tongkang ferry thousands of illegals home to Indonesia every time Ramadan and Aidilfitri approach.

As the authorities are watching, the operators take routes that are not guarded - and certainly not safe. Then it becomes a game of death, with the passengers literally caught between the enforcers and the deep blue sea.

In the two sinkings this week, 13 died and 29 are missing and feared dead. Another 82 survived and are now detained or being treated at hospitals.

The Indonesians pay a high price for the dangerous trip. Fares range from RM640 to RM960 (S$249 to S$373) and on some occasions, RM1,600. Even with that kind of money, passengers get no life jackets and other safety equipment.

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