18 dead, 36 missing as Indonesian migrant boat sinks off Malaysia's Batam

The boat ferrying workers may have capsized due to overcrowding, police say.

Fourth body found after speedboat crash in Thailand
Picture for representation Reuters

At least 18 people have died and dozens are still missing after a speedboat carrying about 100 passengers capsized in Indonesian waters.

The authorities suspect the passengers were migrant workers travelling from Malaysia to Batam, an Indonesian island just south of Singapore.

According to Channel News Asia, local police Chief Sam Budi Gusdian confirmed the news and said that rescue operations are going on. "Eighteen people have been found dead," he told reporters. He also added that 39 passengers had been pulled out of the waters alive. However, 36 passengers remain missing.

Police said they suspect the overcrowded boat encountered difficulties in the rough seas while ferrying migrant workers. Many accidents involving ill-maintained boats have occurred in Indonesia which has a poor water transport safety record.

On 9 October, seven students died after their boat overturned in the Bengawan Solo river in east Java. The wooden boat, which was carrying 25 students from the Langitan Islamic Boarding School across the river, capsized due to overloading.

Also in December, more than 60 people died after huge waves knocked off a ferry charting a course through Sulawesi province. In 2011, a boat carrying 40 passengers sank while crossing the Bengawan Solo river.