Mon, Jan 30, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Dozens of Chinese tourists missing off Borneo Island

AFP, KUALA LUMPUR

The skipper and a crewman from a tourist boat that went missing off Malaysia were yesterday found alive, but an air-and-sea search was continuing for 28 Chinese passengers.

Strong winds and choppy seas were hampering the search for the catamaran, which went missing in poor weather off Borneo Island on Saturday morning — the first day of the Lunar New Year.

It had left Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia’s Sabah State en route for Pulau Mengalum, an island known for its pristine beaches and dive sites.

“The owner of the boat reported it missing on Saturday evening and we have begun a search-and-rescue mission,” said Awil Kamsari, a spokesman for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

The skipper and one of two crewmembers who had been aboard were found alive on Sunday afternoon in waters off a nearby island, the agency said.

Their condition was unknown and no further details were provided.

The Chinese consulate general’s office in Sabah, citing information from Malaysian authorities, said via a statement that the catamaran is suspected to have sunk after an accident near some islands.

It also claimed that multiple passengers were “adrift awaiting rescue,” but provided no further details.

Malaysian authorities said they would hold a press conference in Sabah yesterday evening.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “around 20” of its nationals were aboard.

Xinhua news agency said an emergency team, led by an official from the national tourism administration, had been set up to handle the incident.

An area of about 1,400km2 is being searched with officers from the maritime agency, the police, the navy and the air force involved.

Malaysian navy chief Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin tweeted that it was “so sad as it happened on CNY [Chinese New Year]” and said navy ships and a C130 aircraft were on site for the search.

“I, like all the relatives of those on board, am hoping for progress in the search-and-rescue operation,” Sabah Tourism Minister Masidi Manjun said. “Our forces are trying their best.”

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