Migrants cling to containers for five hours before rescue

KOTA TINGGI – All 17 Indonesian illegal immigrants in a boat which sank in the sea off Pengerang, here early yesterday had to cling onto empty containers and broken parts of the boat for five hours before being rescued.

Describing the miraculous escape from death, one of the victims, Ilham Abdul Muid, 32, said he and his friend Selamat Mustar, 36, were both holding onto a three-litre water container to remain adrift before they were saved by a merchant ship at about 10am yesterday.

“The incident happened suddenly. It all started when our boat was hit by massive waves before water began to pour inside. In that chaotic situation, all of us tried to scoop the water out before the boat sank within 10 minutes,” he told reporters at the Tanjung Pengalih public marina and passengers’ jetty complex in Pengerang, near here.

Ilham who has been in this country for the past three years working as a labourer and was returning to Medan to prepare for his wedding, said at that time he could hear the victims in the boat shouting for help.

Another victim, Agus Umuan, 46, said everyone panicked before the boat sank while Sardi Rosni, 25, from Lombok, said they were lucky to be saved after being in sea water for five hours.