Skipper swims for six hours to get help after boat capsized in Semporna

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The boat used by the 12 victims.

SEMPORNA (Aug 1): A local skipper swam for six hours to Pulau Mantabuan to seek help after his boat carrying 11 passengers capsized on Sunday.

Semporna district police chief Supt Mohd Farhan Lee Abdullah said the 25-foot long wooden boat hit a floating log, resulting in a hole in the vessel in the incident that occurred between 4.30 pm and 6 pm in the waters of Pulau Mantabuan.

He said they were notified of the incident by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) at 11.14pm on Sunday.

He added that initially, the 46-year-old skipper and the passengers had tied empty oil drums around the boat to prevent it from sinking before the man swam to request assistance from the authorities stationed on the island.

“The Malaysian Armed Forces quickly launched a rescue operation. The passengers have been handed over to the marine police for further action,” he said in a statement on Monday.

He said the passengers, comprised nine men, two women and a boy aged between three and 79. They were heading to Semporna town from a neighbouring country.

The skipper was arrested under Section 280 of the Penal Code for navigating a vessel in a rash or negligent manner, while four undocumented passengers were detained under Section 6(1)(C) of the Immigration Act 1963.

“All boat skippers are urged to comply with the set safety regulations to avoid any untoward incidents,” he said.