The confirmed death toll from the wreck of a dredging vessel that capsized Wednesday in waters off the southern Malaysian state of Johor in the Malacca Strait amounted to four and the agents rescue team decided on Sunday morning to finish diving operations but expand the search area.
Sanifah bin Yusof, deputy director of the southern region of the Maritime Safety Agency of Malaysia, said the decision was taken because “all areas have been examined multiple times and there are no more results.”
However, he assured that search and rescue operations continue on the surface of the sea and in the air, with the participation of boats and helicopters from several agencies, including the Navy and the Maritime Police.
In addition, the Indonesian authorities have been informed of the request for assistance if necessary, he added.
The search surface has been extended to 360 square nautical miles (about 1,234.7 square kilometers) from the site of the incident, he said.
So far, five crewmembers of the “JBB Rong Chang 8”, Dominican flag, have been rescued. The Chinese Embassy in Malaysia confirmed that three of the deceased are of Chinese nationality.
A total of 18 crewmembers, 16 Chinese, one Malaysian and one Indonesian, were on the ship at the time of the shipwreck.
Three Chinese sailors had been rescued before and another died.
Speaking to Xinhua, Liu Konggan, chief engineer of the ship that on Friday afternoon (local time) managed to be removed from the inside of the overturned boat, more than 50 hours after the incident, explained that in complete darkness he used a table of metal to hit the hull of the dredging vessel to call the attention of the rescuers, who considered those sounds of the blows as the key indicator of possible survivors.
Liu remembered that the seawater was about to submerge him at that moment.
The chief engineer was rescued along with a Chinese sailor identified as Liang Puzeng. Both suffered mild bruising and bruising from the incident and are now slowly recovering, according to medical staff at the Muar hospital.
Liu mentioned that they did not eat anything or drink water during the period when they were trapped, although they were forced to sip the seawater several times.
The cause of the incident has yet to be determined.