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Second tragedy on Tawau route
Published on: Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Search and rescue teams are looking for the ninth victim of a speedboat tragedy on New Year's Day off the coast of Tanjong Selor in North Kalimantan, as authorities investigate what actually caused it to sink.

It was the second such tragedy on the Tawau-Tg Selor route in six months.

The lucrative speedboat business between the links is dominated by Indonesian operators.

Those killed were identified as Mirno, Muhammad Al. Hasbi and Arjuna from Tarakan, Aying, Hj Yuliana and H. Ahmad from Tanjong Selor, Velisya and Natasya from Berau.

Although no Malaysians were involved, the tragedy sparked concern as many Malaysian citizens of Indonesian origin regularly travel using the sea route between Tawau to Nunukan or Tawau to Tarakan.

Two of the victims were said to be studying in a Tawau private college.

"There's still one passenger still missing and they're still out there looking for him," Tarakan-based radio journalist Rizkia Danun from El-Shinta FM told Daily Express. The passenger was a boy named Muhammad Fikri.

Quoting head of the rescue operation Gusti Anwar Mulyadi, she said the number of passengers confirmed dead remained at eight.

According to earlier reports, 13 others were also missing after a speedboat, Anugerah Express, capsized just minutes after leaving Tanjong Selor for Tarakan.

The speedboat journey between the two areas usually takes an hour and 10 minutes.

It was reported to be carrying 48 passengers, of whom 27 had earlier been reported rescued.

Of the 13 missing, 12 had been rescued, bringing the total number to 39 as of press time, Tuesday.

The speedboat skipper identified as Amir and two crew members, Dillah and Sultan, were saved and their statement was taken by the relevant authorities.

There were claims that the speedboat had hit a floating wood, causing it to capsize.

In July last year, a similar incident happened on the same route from Tarakan to Tanjong Selor, killing eight people. - Leonard Alaza and Lagatah Toyos

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