Last two bodies recovered

JOHOR BARU - All the five illegal immigrants who went missing after the boat they were in capsized last Thursday were confirmed dead.

This followed the discovery of the last two bodies off Tanjung Ayam at Pengerang, one at 11.13am and the other at 6.45pm, on the first day of Hari Raya.

No documents were found on them.

The search and rescue operations involving 96 personnel from the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), Marine Operations Force and Singapore Coast Guard, which began at 8.25pm last Thursday, was called off.

MMEA southern region enforcement chief First Admiral Adon Shalan said only the tekong and another illegal immigrant survived the boat tragedy.

"The case has been referred to the Kota Tinggi district police."

It was reported the boat left an undesignated jetty at Kampung Pasir Putih in Pasir Gudang here about noon and was heading towards Pulau Batam, Indonesia, when it was struck by strong waves and sank off Tanjung Pengelih on Thursday.

The tragedy only came to light more than eight hours later when a fisherman rescued the boat's tekong, Harman Latip, 44, off Tanjung Pengelih.

The fishermen alerted the Johor Baru Maritime Rescue Subcentre at 8.25pm the same day.

The MMEA and the Marine Operations Force sent out a 30-member search and rescue party to the site of the incident.

At 9.30pm, one of the victims was found clinging to a buoy.

The Singapore Coast Guard later joined the search and rescue operations. They found the first body in their waters about 2am on Friday.

The second body was found three nautical miles southeast of Tanjung Stapa at 6pm on Friday, and the third, at 2.15pm on Saturday, off Tanjung Pengelih.

The tekong is believed to have been sending the illegal immigrants back to Indonesia for Hari Raya when the boat sank.

At least 10 boats had been spotted attempting to smuggle out illegal immigrants from Johor during Ramadan.

However, most of them had to make a U-turn and hide in forests nearby or abandon their trips after they were spotted by the authorities.

Become a fan on Facebook