By THE BORNEOTODAY TEAM
KOTA KINABALU – Six people are said to be still missing while three more are believed to have drowned in the tragedy involving a catamaran taking 28 tourists from China to Pulau Mengalum on Saturday.
The dead include two men and a woman, sources involved in the search and rescue operation told BorneoToday late Sunday evening.
They said rescuers have held back the information regarding the dead as they had yet to be confirmed dead by a doctor.
As to the six still missing, the sources said rescuers have not given up hope yet and are keeping their fingers crossed that they too will be found alive.
Shahidan Kassim, a minister in the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Department, had earlier told a press conference that 23 Chinese have been found alive after their tourist boat sank off Pulau Tiga but six people remain missing.
Earlier, the media was told that 25 tourists and two crew were rescued, with four still missing, but this was due to mixed signals coming from the rescue teams.
According to information received, five people were found by tug boats involved in the SAR while 10 more were rescued by fishermen.
Later, other fishermen plucked out eight more tourists from the waters off Labuan.
Among them were the three dead.
Rescuers said sea conditions were still bad with waves some 3-4 metres high.
This has not been officially verified but usually when waves hit the 4-metre mark, boats are advised not to go out to sea.
Meanwhile, the catamaran skipper and one of his crew who were picked up near Pulau Tiga at about 2pm Sunday are said to be at the Kota Kinabalu police station.
Here, Sabah police chief, Datuk Ramli Din is having a press conference at the moment (scheduled for 8.45pm)
The skipper reportedly told rescuers that his boat was hit by strong waves and it capsized on Saturday afternoon.
The skipper had also said that before jumping into the sea, all passengers put on their life jackets and were tied to each other.
Meanwhile, those rescued are said to be on a trawler headed for the state capital.
Earlier it was reported that they would be taken to Labuan before being put on a flight to Kota Kinabalu.
It has yet to be ascertained what time the boat would reach Kota Kinabalu.