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Police detain captain of capsized boat

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KOTA KINABALU: The skipper and a crewman of the ill-fated catamaran that sank while on its way to Pulau Mengalum on Saturday have been detained.

Sabah Police Commissioner Ramli Din said both men were being held for causing death by negligence.

He said in a Twitter post that the two men were assisting police in their investigation.

The 26-year-old skipper and 38-year-old crewman were the first to be picked up from waters near Pulau Tiga early on Sunday. They were subsequently taken back to Kota Kinabalu and brought to the district police station, The Star reported.

The catamaran with 31 people on board - comprising 28 Chinese nationals and three crew members - sank at about 10am on Saturday after departing the Tanjung Aru jetty an hour earlier.

The company operating the vessel reported the incident to authorities 12 hours after it happened, and search and rescue efforts began immediately.


Most were rescued on Sunday afternoon. Twenty of the China nationals survived their 32-hour ordeal at sea, while three died. Five Chinese tourists and one crew member are still missing.

Meanwhile, rescuers yesterday expanded their search for the missing passengers and crewmen, AFP reported.

"The search area is now 1,500 nautical square miles," Mr Awil Kamsari, a spokesman for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, told AFP. "They could have drifted further so we have to expand the search area."

About 100 officers from the agency, the navy and the air force were involved, as well as a C-130 aircraft.

"We are hoping for some good news," an official from the Chinese consul-general's office in Sabah said, declining to comment further.

Part of the search area falls in Brunei waters and authorities there are using a helicopter to hunt for the missing six, Mr Awil added.

The search was postponed due to rough seas on Sunday night but resumed yesterday morning.