Director of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Sandakan Zone, Captain Zainudin Mohd Zuki said the incident happened at about 4 am yesterday, but the MMEA Sandakan Zone only received information of the incident at 4.20 pm yesterday.
“‘Ever Winner’ was operated by four crew members, including its captain. It is understood that the tugboat had been towing a barge called ‘Ever Eternity’ (which also capsized), with one crew member, from Kinabatangan to Sandakan, and is said to have battled bad weather before the boat’s transport company noticed it was missing.
“A search and rescue (SAR) operation was activated at 5.20 pm (yesterday) and ‘Ever Winner’s chief engineer Asman Mohamad, 31, was found safe after he swam ashore to a nearby beach. Meanwhile, the ‘Ever Eternity’ crew member, Roslie Antala, 48, was found safe in shallow waters,” he said in a statement, here, today.
Zainudin said the missing tugboat crew members were boat captain Mohamad Mal, 49, and crewmen Mohd Hafiz Isyra Nagrah, 22, and Azlan Hassan, 23.
According to him, the victims who are still missing are feared to be trapped in the tugboat. The boat disappeared from view due to the dark conditions.
Zainudin said the SAR operation continued today and was divided into six search areas with an area covering 211 square nautical miles. The operation involves nine marine teams from the MMEA, the Royal Malaysia Police, Joint Task Force, Royal Malaysian Navy, Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department and the Malaysian Civil Defence Force.
He also appealed to the public with any information related to the incident to immediately call the 24-hour operations room of the Sandakan Maritime Zone at 089-229504 or MERS 999.