Updated! 23 Missing Tourists Rescued; To Be Flown Back From Labuan

File photo of the missing catamaran. - Photo provided by MMEA Sabah
File photo of the missing catamaran. On Sunday afternoon 23 tourists were rescued in waters near Labuan after the skipper and a crewman were picked up at 2pm earlier. – Photo provided by MMEA Sabah

KOTA KINABALU – Some 23 tourists from China who went missing after their catamaran capsized near Pulau Tiga on Saturday, have been rescued Sunday.

“Most of them were picked up from the sea in waters off Labuan,”said Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming.

Four more people remain unaccounted for, after the skipper and a crewman were rescued earlier in the day.

Pang said those rescued were found in groups of five to 10 people.

This confirmed an earlier report in BorneoToday that said the tourists, among them several children, were tied to a rope together with the third crewman, while the skipper and another crew member went for help.

The Chinese consulate in Kota Kinabalu said multiple survivors “were reported drifting at sea waiting for rescue,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Chinese state television said the crew reported helping passengers put on life jackets as the boat was sinking, then tried to look for help.

Pang said those rescued had been taken to Labuan and arrangements would be made to bring them to Kota Kinabalu as soon as possible.

There were 28 tourists from China and three crew members on board the catamaran when it went missing on Saturday afternoon.

The vessel was supposed to have arrived at Pulau Mengalum at about 11am but sank on its way there.

The boat, which set off from Tanjung Aru at 9am on Saturday, on its 56km journey to Pulau Mengalum, was reported missing at about 9.50pm by its owner.

Pulau Tiga is about 53km away from Pulau Mengalum, and 50km from Tanjung Aru jetty.