Search continues for missing crew of sand dredger capsized in Malacca Strait

Updated 2018-03-23 13:22:06 Xinhua

More divers are expected to enter a capsized sand dredger on Friday in the Malacca Strait near Malaysia to search for the missing crew members believed to be trapped inside the ship, search and rescue officials said.

Divers conducted search inside the ship overnight but had yet to find the missing crew, said Abu Bakar Bin Idris, of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), the country's coast guard.

Divers have resumed searching early on Friday after the ship was towed to the shallower waters, now some 1.8 nautical miles from the shore, Abu Bakar told reporters.

"We are engaging more divers to conduct the operation, that's why we start early today so we can do more diving... we hope we can find something, at the same time the diving operations are concentrating more on the engine compartment," he said, adding that extra divers will be joining the third day of the search and rescue operations.

Two divers entered the ship earlier on Friday, reporting that they still heard knocking sounds, "and we still hope survivors still survive," Abu Bakar said.

Tay Yap Leong, commander of Malaysian navy's diving force, said sounds were coming from the bottom of the engine room as well as the bottom part of the accommodation cabins.

The divers were facing challenges during the search, including fuel mixing up with sea water and the objects floating inside the ship, said Tay.

The Chinese Marine Search and Rescue Center had also sent divers and experts to assist the search and rescue efforts, according to the Chinese embassy in Malaysia.

Medical personnel are deployed at sea to provide immediate treatment should any survivors be found. The rescuers would also conduct air and sea search in the nearby waters, said Abu Bakar. Meanwhile, the rescuers are considering cutting open the hull as the last option.

Malaysia launched search and rescue operations involving multi-agencies including MMEA, the navy, police after a sand dredging vessel with 18 people onboard capsized Wednesday in the waters off its southern Johor state, leaving at least one dead and 14 crew members missing, including 12 Chinese, one Malaysian and one Indonesian sailors.

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