At least 24 people have drowned and dozens are missing after a boat carrying up to 80 people capsized off the coast of western Malaysia.
Nineteen of the dead were women, according to First Admiral Mohd Aliyas Hamdan from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), and all the victims are believed to be Indonesian nationals. Another 20 passengers have been rescued.
The 12.2 meter (40 foot) boat was traveling from Kuala Sungai Bernam, off the west coast of Malaysia to Tanjong Balai, Indonesia on Thursday morning when it capsized about nine nautical miles south-west of Tanjong Sauh in the Malacca Straight, the MMEA said.
Local fisherman were the first on the scene and rescued 14 people before contacting the MMEA, which then deployed ships and an airplane in a search and rescue operation.
The search was suspended due to bad weather on Thursday night, but four aircraft and 10 ships from the Malaysian military continued the search Friday, although the MMEA said haze from forest fires in the region had made visibility poor.
Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak offered his condolences on Twitter to the families of those who died.
“The boat capsize in Sabak Bernam is a sad incident. The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) will continue with the search and rescue operation. Al -Fatihah and my condolences to the families of passengers who were killed,” he tweeted, according to an English translation from Malaysian state media.
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SOURCE: CNN, Georgia McCafferty