Malaysia Rescues 46 Suspected Illegal Immigrants From Sinking Boat

Posted July 20th, 2011 at 12:35 am (UTC-5)
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Malaysian authorities said Wednesday they have rescued 46 Indonesians whose boat was about to sink in waters between the two countries.

The men are believed to have been working illegally in Malaysia and trying to make their way home to celebrate Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month which begins in August. The men have been taken into custody.

Officials said they received a distress signal after the boat's engine failed and it began taking on water but were unable to locate it until shortly before it sank. They said the boat's skipper had already fled, abandoning his passengers.

Almost 1 million Indonesians work legally in Malaysia and almost as many are believed to work there illegally, often making the passage in ill-equipped and rickety boats. Malaysia says more than 600 arrests have been reported so far this year.