Dozens Missing After Migrant Boat Sinks Off Malaysian Coast

A boat carrying 97 Indonesian migrants sank off the coast of Malaysia. By Wednesday morning, at least five bodies had been recovered.
Posted at 8:01 AM, Jun 18, 2014

At least five people are dead and dozens feared drowned after an overloaded wooden boat carrying nearly 100 Indonesian migrants sank off the coast of Malaysia.

Low tides are hampering a search-and-rescue effort now underway in the Strait of Malacca. So far, nearly 60 passengers have been rescued. (Via BBC

Officials say the boat, which was carrying 97 Indonesian nationals, sank around midnight Tuesday due to a tropical storm. It was reportedly headed to Indonesia's Sumatra island. (Via AlJazeera)

Even while the boat reportedly lacked life jackets, rescue teams are still holding out hope they’ll find more survivors since the boat sunk in shallow waters. 

Some survivors told authorities they were trying to return home for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.  The Wall Street Journal cites a spokesperson for the Malaysian coast guard who said the "boat may have been part of a syndicate ferrying Indonesians back and forth between their home country and Malaysia, where salaries are higher and jobs available, particularly in construction and agriculture."

According to Bloomberg, Malaysia has arrested thousands of illegal immigrants deported almost half a million undocumented workers from countries including Indonesia and Bangladesh last year.

But despite the crackdown on undocumented workers, some two million are thought to be working in Malaysia. Most of these workers perform low paid jobs unpopular with the rest of the workforce. (Via YouTube / BuyITFair)

Immigration officials are questioning the rescued passengers. Eight boats and a helicopter are now searching for survivors.