Malaysia: Overloaded express boat carrying 204 capsizes in Sarawak, 181 rescued, 23 missing – 280513 1130z

An express boat, said to be overloaded with more than 100 passengers returning to their villages for the Gawai festival, capsized in the Rajang River at about 9am on Tuesday near Belaga town.

The boat was travelling from Bakun to Kapit and Sibu. Belaga assemblyman Liwan Lagang had spotted the overturned vessel and people swimming away from it towards the riverbank when he was flying by helicopter to Kuching.

He immediately landed at Uma Tevok Long Buyun where he met the survivors and organised a rescue. He said it was not immediately known if there were any fatalities and what had caused the boat to capsize. “We haven’t done a head count. “But according to those who swam to safety, there are people trapped in the boat,” Liwan said when contacted.
Tuesday, 28 May, 2013 at 06:24 (06:24 AM) UTC RSOE

Other Reports

Overloaded express boat capsizes in Sarawak, 20 missing

BELAGA: Rescuers have saved 181 passengers from capsized express boat but 23 people are still missing in the capsized express boat incident in Sungai Rajang, Sarawak this morning.

The Kawan Mas express boat carrying holidaymakers returning home to celebrate the Gawai Dayak festival this weekend, capsized near Tanjong Giam Bungan at 9am, which is an hour boat ride from Belaga.

It is learnt the boat which started off from Bakun, was carrying 204 passengers although its maximum load capacity is only 74 people.

Belaga town councillor Daniel Levoh said none of the passengers in the overloaded express boat were from Belaga as the boat was already full with passengers before reaching the small town.

“None of those from Belaga managed to get a place on the boat. It could only berth to drop a few passengers off,” said Daniel.

He also said many of the passengers on the boat were workers from Bakun, Murum or Sungai Asap who were heading back for the Gawai Dayak celebrations this weekend.

Residents from nearby longhouses, Uma Tevok and Uma Tanjong were the first to to the scene torescue the passengers.

Culture and Heritage assistant minister Liwan Lagang, who was at the scene, said the boat was already overloaded as it was making its way towards Kapit.

Other rescue teams from the Fire an d Rescue Department, civil defence, police and Sarawak Rivers Board are now at the scene.

Meanwhile, Bernama quoted Belaga OCPD DSP Bakar Sebau who said the survivors were now sheltering at two longhouses not far from the site of the incident.

“We are still continuing with our search for those missing,” he said when contacted.

He said the express boat was travelling from Bakun in the upper part of the river and had developed engine problem after hitting wood debris in the river.

23 missing after boat flips in Malaysia

Survivors of an overturned boat accident, Rajang River in Belaga

Twenty-one people are missing after an overloaded boat capsized in a remote Malaysian jungle river. Source: AAP

“TWENTY-THREE people are missing in remote Borneo after a boat overloaded with holidaymakers heading home for a festival capsized in treacherous rapids on a jungle river, Malaysian police said.

“Twenty-three people are still missing,” local police chief Bakar Anak Sebau told AFP.

He said 181 were rescued after the morning accident on the Rajang river, Malaysia’s longest, which flows from deep in the rugged interior of Borneo island in the state of Sarawak.

The boat’s capacity was just 74 passengers, added Bakar, police chief of the town of Belaga from where the boat set off shortly before the incident.

Most passengers were believed to be heading home for the coming weekend’s Gawai festival, a major cultural and religious observance for indigenous Borneo tribes that triggers heavy travel in the state.

Bakar said no deaths have so far been confirmed.

He said the boat was heading downstream and was believed to have struck a rock while navigating one of many sections of rapids on the 560-kilometre waterway.

The accident happened deep in the wild and sparsely populated interior of Sarawak, one of two Malaysian states located on Borneo. Sarawak is Malaysia’s largest state by area but also one of its least developed.

Gawai is one of the most important festivals celebrated each year by Borneo’s dozens of indigenous tribes and other ethnic groups, with thousands travelling to meet family and friends for the festival.” –


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