A boat carrying 31 people, including 28 Chinese tourists went missing off Malaysia's Sabah state on Saturday. The Malaysian maritime authorities said a search operation is underway.
The tourist boat sailed out from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Malaysia's eastern Sabah state, to Pulau Mengalum, a popular tourist destination at around 9 a.m. (0100 GMT) on Saturday.
Rahim Ramli, the deputy director of Sabah and Labuan Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said the boat was reported missing at about 9.50 p.m. after it failed to arrive at the island. He said a search and rescue operation for the missing vessel was launched immediately on Saturday night.
According to Ramli, bad weather was hampering the search effort. "We are looking at strong winds and choppy waters," he told Reuters.
"The search area covers 400 nautical square miles and involves waters between Kota Kinabalu and Pulau Mengalum," MMEA communications officer Awil Kamsari told the New Straits Times. "The Royal Malaysian Air Force will be notified to carry out aerial surveillance," he added.
The Chinese official Xinhua news agency reported the Chinese consulate in Kota Kinabalu has asked the state government to step up the search effort. The China National Tourism Administration said it has initiated emergency response procedures.