KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 A boat carrying about 80
Indonesians sank early Tuesday off the southern coast of
Malaysia after colliding with a patrol boat out to arrest
illegal workers, a Malaysian maritime official said.
A spokesman for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
(MMEA) said two passengers were confirmed drowned, while around
17 remain missing. Search and rescue operations were still
ongoing in the waters off Tanjung Piai in the southern state of
Johor, he added.
"We are working with the police, marine officials and public
defence department to find the rest," the MMEA official said.
Local newspapers said the passengers were illegal Indonesian
workers and that the boat was en route to Indonesia.
In June, an overloaded boat carrying suspected illegal
Indonesian immigrants sank as it left Malaysia's west coast,
killing at least 10 passengers.
Malaysia, one of Southeast Asia's wealthier economies, has
long been a magnet for illegal immigrants from Indonesia and
other poorer countries in the region. Many undocumented
Indonesians work in Malaysia's extensive oil palm plantations, a
mainstay of its economy.
(Reporting By Anuradha Raghu and Al-Zaquan Amer Hamzah; Editing
by Miral Fahmy)