Tanjung Balau boat tragedy: Another seven bodies found, 18 more missing

KOTA TINGGI: Another seven bodies have been found by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), bringing the total number of recorded deaths to 18 from the capsized boat incident in Tanjung Balau, here.

Johor MMEA deputy director (operations) Maritime Capt Simon Templer Lo Tusa said the second day of the search and rescue (SAR) will focus on finding the remaining 18 other victims who are still missing.

“Today’s SAR will cover about 147 nautical miles (272km) of Tanjung Balau water areas using some of our assets such as KM TEGAS and MMEA PETIR 50 boats.

“Our AW 139 MMEA aircraft will look through the air and will cover about 76 nautical miles (140km),” he said in a statement here on Thursday (Dec 16).

He added that the second day of SAR will involve 133 personnel and officers from the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM), police, marine police, fire and rescue department, civil defence force, and the Health Ministry.

“We set up the SAR base at Tanjung Balau beach at about 8.30am on Wednesday (Dec 15).

“The weather today is forecasted to be heavy rain with thunderstorms, aside from the rough sea conditions that are expected to present some challenges to the SAR efforts,” he added.

On Wednesday, 11 bodies of Indonesian nationals were found along the Tanjung Balau beach after the boat they were on capsized due to high waves during bad weather early in the morning.

So far, only 14 victims have survived the incident.

The boat was reportedly carrying 50 undocumented migrants from Batam and Lombok, Indonesia, and the SAR is still ongoing to find the remaining passengers.