Thirteen migrants believed to be from Indonesia drowned after their boats capsized off southern Malaysia, a district police chief said Tuesday.
The accident occurred late Monday off the coast of Kota Tinggi, south of Kuala Lumpur, according to Kota Tinggi district police chief superintendent Rahmat Othman.
“The victims were believed to be heading back to Indonesia when their boat was battered by huge waves and sank,” he told reporters.
The fatalities comprised nine women and four men, and police did not recover any survivors, he said.
The victims appeared to be illegal migrant workers, said another police source, who asked not to be named. Migrants often use rickety wooden boats to return to their homeland.
The home ministry estimated the number of illegal Indonesian workers in Malaysia at 1.5 million, most of them working on palm oil plantations and doing odd jobs.
Malaysia has one of the largest economies in South-East Asia and millions of migrants workers from its poorer neighbours go to the country to find employment.