Malaysia expands search operation for missing boat passengers

Kuala Lumpur, Jan 30 (IANS) Malaysia has expanded the search area for the six persons still missing after their boat sank off Sabah state, with neighbouring Brunei also joining the search effort, authorities said on Monday.

At least three persons were found dead and so far 20 Chinese tourists and two crew members have been rescued, while six persons remain missing.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said the search and rescue operations on Monday were launched at 7.00 a.m. with the search area expanded to 1,500 square nautical miles into waters in Brunei, Xinhua news agency reported.

Vessels from the Maritime Enforcement Agency, Malaysian Navy and a C-130 aircraft from Malaysian air force are among the assets deployed for the search. Brunei is also sending a helicopter for the operations, according to the Maritime Enforcement Agency.

The boat with a total of 31 persons on board, went missing on Saturday when travelling from Kota Kinabalu to Pulau Mengalum, a popular tourist island.