Dozens feared drowned after Indonesia migrant boat sinks off coast of Malaysia

Official says the boat was not fit for a sea journey and that it contained a large number of women and children

Malaysian authorities are involved in a frantic search to try and locate more than 40 migrant workers after an overloaded wooden boat sank off the country’s west coast.

Reports said 97 migrant labourers from Indonesia were on board the vessel when it sank shortly after midnight close to the city of Banting, on the Strait of Malacca. They were reportedly heading home to Indonesia.

It was reported that 55 of the passengers had been rescued but concerns were growing about the plight of the others.

Muhammad Zuri, an official with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, told the Reuters news agency that the boat was not fit for a sea journey and that it contained a large number of women and children.

“This was an illegal boat and all the passengers were Indonesian,” he said. One rescue boat had already been dispatched to the area while another two were on their way.

The Malaysia Star newspaper reported that the distress call was received by the Banting Fire and Rescue department at about 12.24am on Wednesday and a rescue team was dispatched within 30 minutes.

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