30 March 2020 (closed)
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On Thursday (19/06), Malaysian rescuers intensified the search for 26 missing Indonesians after their wooden boat had capsized during a storm on Wednesday (18/06) while making the journey from Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) to Indonesia (Aceh, Sumatra). Nine people have died, while 26 persons remain missing. At least 62 people have survived the disaster. Reportedly, the boat, carrying mostly illegal Indonesian workers who returned to Indonesia to participate in the Ramadan and Idul Fitri festivities, was overloaded.
Possible 97 people, including several children, were on the boat that sank off the western coast of Malaysia - approximately 3.7 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur - during heavy weather on Wednesday. However, the boat’s passenger capacity was in the range of 50 to 60 people. Eight men and one woman were reported to have died in the tragedy.
It is common for illegal Indonesian workers to travel across the Malacca Strait between Indonesia and Malaysia in poorly equipped boats. This flow of illegal workers, mostly working on Malaysian plantations or other industries (construction, factories), possibly reaches tens of thousands per year. Such an illegal one-way trip costs approximately USD $370. Usually, these workers arrive in Malaysia on a tourist visa but then overstay and work illegally in Malaysia. It is estimated that around two million illegal immigrants, mostly from Indonesia, are engaged in low-paid work in Malaysia.
As the boats are usually in poor condition and because the illegal migrants tend to choose night time when crossing the Strait of Malacca (to avoid detection), accidents occasionally happen. In August 2013, seven Indonesians died while 33 remain missing after a boat, headed for Indonesia, sank.