The eight-man crew of a Malaysian cargo ship are feared trapped in the vessel, after it overturned and capsized on the night of 19 July.
The domestic vessel, Tung Sung, is believed to have gone down rapidly amid heavy rain, leaving the seafarers with no time to react. Four Myanmar nationals, three Malaysians and one Indonesian make up the crew.
Tung Sung, which plied only Malaysian coastal waters, capsized four nautical miles northwest of Pulau Burung in Sebuyau, a coastal town in Sarawak.
At a press briefing at the scene today (21 July), Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency’s (MMEA’s) Sarawak branch director First Admiral Zin Azman Md Yunus said the missing men could only be recovered by righting the vessel. However, an appropriate contractor with the right divers and equipment has to be appointed.
Adm Zin Azman said, “This process needs to be done as soon as possible and it takes about four to five days if the weather is good and 10 days or more in bad weather.”
Adm Zin Azman hinted that chances of pulling the crewmen out alive are slim, as nearly two days have passed, and there was a long delay between the incident and the MMEA receiving the report.
Tung Sung flipped over around 11 pm local time on 19 July, but the MMEA was only notified around 9.40 am local time the following day.
Nearly 100 officers and personnel from various agencies, including MMEA, the police and civil defence force, are patrolling the surrounding waters in hopes of finding the missing men.
Noting that the region has been facing unusually heavy rain this month, Adm Zin Azman said that for safety reasons, the righting operation will have to pause in the event of bad weather.
The admiral said that making Tung Sung upright will be daunting, as the hull overturned in 50m-deep murky waters.
Adm Zin Azman noted, “Divers need to identify the appropriate points to do underwater welding and hook each point with a cable to be connected to the crane, then a crane will pull the ship (upright) slowly.”