The death toll from a boat that capsized off Malaysia’s western coast Thursday rose to 61 on Sunday as four more bodies were found by search and rescue officials, state news agency Bernama reported. The 40-foot boat, with at least 70 Indonesian migrants on board, was on its way to Sumatra in Indonesia from the Sabak Bernam district in Malaysia's central Selangor state.
"The bodies were found about eight nautical miles from the scene of the incident and they were found close to each other," Mohd. Shuhaily Mohd. Zain, a local police official, said, according to Bernama, adding: "The latest findings bring the number of victims closer to the earlier target of about 70 to 80 passengers. Even though it is approaching the target total, the operation center will remain open until further instructions."
The search and rescue operation that followed the accident involved seven agencies, including Malaysia's Maritime Enforcement Agency, local police, the country’s navy and the Civil Defense Department, Bernama reported. The bodies were sent for identification and post mortem after they were found Sunday.
So far, rescuers have retrieved the bodies of 23 women, a girl child and 37 men. Officials have also managed to rescue 20 people.
With 2 million Indonesian migrants working without permits in the Southeast Asian country, such incidents are reportedly common. The Indonesians working illegally often cross the narrow Strait of Malacca in rickety boats to travel between the two countries.