KUALA LUMPUR • Ten people are confirmed dead and about 30 missing after a boat believed to be carrying Indonesian illegal immigrants capsized in rough seas off the Malaysian state of Johor, officials said yesterday.
The bodies of six women and four men were washed ashore at a beach near the east coast town of Mersing earlier yesterday, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said.
"We believe there were about 40 Indonesians on the boat and we believe they were illegal immigrants," an agency spokesman said.
The boat was travelling from Indonesia to Malaysia when it capsized.
Two passengers were rescued and taken to hospital, but their condition was unknown. A search is under way for the missing passengers.
The agency said the boat probably sank because it was overloaded and hit by rough seas.
There has been a string of accidents in the waterways between Indonesia and Malaysia involving overloaded boats ferrying labourers seeking work in Malaysian factories and plantations.
In November, more than half of the 101 passengers on board a boat died after their craft hit a reef and sank off the Indonesian island of Batam.
Four months earlier, a boat sank while en route to Batam. Malaysian authorities recovered eight bodies and rescued 34 people.
In January last year, Malaysian police recovered 17 bodies after a boat with illegal migrants capsized in high seas.
Legal and illegal ferry services are available on Batam and Bintan islands in Indonesia, and along the coast of Johor.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS