A speedboat carrying 93 Indonesian migrant workers from Malaysia sank off an Indonesian island on Wednesday, killing 17 of them, Indonesia’s national disaster agency said.
The boat set sail from the southern Malaysian state of Johor and was headed towards Indonesia’s Batam island, just south of Singapore, the Indonesian national disaster mitigation agency said in a statement.
The boat crashed into a reef after being hit by big waves and strong wind, and sank at around dawn, the disaster agency said. About 39 people were evacuated and a search and rescue team was looking for the rest.
Zainul Arifin, one of the survivors who worked at an oil palm plantation in Malaysia, said he was sitting at the back of the boat when sea water started coming aboard.
“I had to jump off and start swimming,” Arifin said in the port town of Nongsa on Batam.
Many Indonesians work in Malaysian factories and plantations.
Boat accidents are common in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of more than 17,000 islands.