KUALA LUMPUR • Rescuers were scouring the waters off Malaysia's southern coast yesterday for 18 people missing after a boat carrying migrants from Indonesia capsized, killing one woman, a Malaysian maritime official said.
Twenty-five people, including a woman, were rescued after the boat, believed to be carrying 44 illegal immigrants, sank early yesterday, said First Admiral Abu Bakar Bin Idris, an official of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.
The search for survivors began after workers on an offshore platform notified the Malaysian authorities that they had seen two Indonesians swimming towards them, he added.
"We have requested assistance from the Singapore and Indonesian authorities to search within their own waters," First Admiral Abu Bakar said in a statement.
The vessel was travelling from Indonesia's Batam Island to Tanjung Penawar in Malaysia's southern state of Johor when it sank, he said.
Senior coast guard official Sanifah Yusof said it appeared the boat was overloaded and ran into bad weather. A coast guard statement said nearly 150 officers from various government agencies with seven boats and ships, as well as a helicopter, were searching an area of 150 square nautical miles.
Southern Malaysian waterways, which border Indonesia and Singapore, include busy international shipping lanes and rich fishing grounds. Overloaded migrant boats also ply the waters and occasionally run into trouble.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE