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Malaysian police arrest owner, crew members of missing boat carrying Chinese tourists

Editor: Wang Lingxiao 丨Xinhua

01-31-2017 11:56 BJT

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- The owner and two crew members of the boat carrying Chinese tourists that went missing off Malaysia's Sabah state were arrested to facilitate investigation, police said Monday.

The skipper and the crewman were suspected of causing death by negligence, said Sabah police chief Ramli Din.

The two crew members were the first to be rescued after their boat went missing on Saturday on the way from the state capital Kota Kinabalu to Pulau Mengalum, a popular tourist island some 60 km to the west.

The owner was arrested later Monday, and police has launched a full probe into the accident, including whether the boat was overloaded and whether it was operated with license and insurance, Ramli told Xinhua.

"We will investigate from all angles, pertaining to negligence if any," he said.

Ramli said the boat was carrying 27 Chinese tourists instead of 28 as reported earlier. One tourist registered for the trip but cancelled the visit after seeing the boat was full.

That brings the number of unaccounted for down to five, including a crewman, not six as reported earlier, he said.

Brunei joined the search effort in a 1,500 square nautical miles area on Monday. Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar, director general of Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, told Xinhua over phone that no new survivors were found and the search and rescue would continue.

The passengers and crew were left adrift at sea after the boat sank in rough sea, before 20 Chinese tourists were rescued Sunday. Three tourists were found dead.

The tourists were sent back to Kota Kinabalu early Monday and admitted to a hospital. All suffered from sunburn and dehydration but were in stable conditions, according to the hospital.

A Chinese tourist who went to Pulau Mengalum for snorkeling on Saturday recalled the bumpy trip in bad weather.

"It almost broke my waist," she told Xinhua. She also recalled the crowded boat and the fact that many passengers were not wearing life jackets.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on a social media posting that he saw the tragedy seriously and want a detailed investigation to find out the cause of the incident.

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