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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Bad weather hampers search for missing six

KOTA KINABALU - The search and rescue operations for the six people still missing in the catamaran mishap will be carried out in the morning and early afternoon due to bad weather.

Kota Kinabalu Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) director Laksamana Pertama Adam Aziz (pix) said it would be easier for those involved in the search to spot any floating objects in calm seas.

"We are experiencing unpredictable weather conditions. It is clear in the morning but rains in the later part of the afternoon," he said at a media briefing on the ongoing search operations at the MMEA office here Thursday.

The search area of 3,900 sq nautical miles covers waters off Sabah, Sarawak, Labuan and Brunei.

Adam said MMEA was aware of a request from the Chinese consul-general in Kota Kinabalu Chen Peijie for divers to be involved in an underwater search.

According to him, the area was too deep for such a search.

Adam explained that the sea depth in the area where the catamaran sank was more than 50m, while their divers could only go down to a depth of 21m.

He also said that the 20 survivors had indicated that all those on board the vessel had jumped into the sea.

Without an exact data on the location where the catamaran sank on Saturday, Adam said they believe it was about eight nautical miles from Pulau Mengalum where the depth was about 49m.

On Jan 28, the catamaran with 31 people on board comprising 28 Chinese nationals and three crew members sank at about 10am after departing from the Tanjung Aru jetty an hour earlier.

Twenty of the Chinese nationals survived their 30-hour ordeal at sea, while three died. Six are still missing.

The missing six are crewman Absoy Kasim, 26, and China's Sheng Jiang Jiang, 50 (male), Luo Hong Yuan, 51 (male), Dong Mei (female), a woman in her 30s and a child believed to be aged 10. - the Star

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