TAWAU: Three children were among five Indonesians who drowned while 17 of their compatriots were rescued by Malaysian authorities when a speedboat sank in the waters off Tawau, about two kilometres from here yesterday.According to survivors, the boat struck something hard, believed to have been wood, before it sprang a leak and disappeared about 8.30am.
The dead were identified as Eppy Jupri, three, Hairi Patta, seven, Aswin Asri, 13, Sonna Bakar, 25, and Justina Omar, 31.
Those rescued were five-month-old Asrul Hamsa, one-year-old Aldi Jupri, Ayu Bali, 16, Efa Kahar, 15, Musdalifah Moh Ali, nine, Iwan Jumat, 17, Hamsah Baso, 28, Sapian Bacho, 45, Kassim Sapian, 22, boat owner Loneng Kadir, 57, Muliadi Mato, 23, Mustapah Bakri, 22, Sukardi Umar, 34, Erna Salim, 20, Sumiati Lorang, 22, Yati Mapa Sungkai, 30, and 51-year-old Samsiah Olleh.
The survivors were picked up in a two-hour search-and-rescue operation involving two patrol boats from the Tawau Marine Operations Force, assisted by other enforcement agencies.
Tawau police chief Assistant Commissioner Ibrahim Chin said the police were in the midst of tracking down the boat captain, known only as Antok, 30, who had given the authorities the slip, following the mishap.
He said the police had sought the assistance of the Indonesian Consulate here to nab the fugitive.
The bodies were sent to the Tawau Hospital for post-mortem while five survivors sought treatment at the hospital.
Twelve others were sent to the Indonesian Consulate after receiving outpatient treatment.
Ibrahim said the boat was on its way to Tawau from Nunukan when it struck what was believed to have been wood, causing it to sink. — Bernama