Missing Malaysian ship with Indian crew found: Report

Kuala Lumpur: A Malaysian-registered cargo ship, missing for a week with 14 crew members including four Indians and feared hijacked in the piracy-prone South China Sea, has been found, according to maritime officials.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) commander for the state of Sarawak, Ismaili Bujang, said the 'MV Sah Lian' was found about 25 nautical miles away from Tanjong Baram near Miri yesterday evening.

"The agency's KM Mersuji vessel are closing in on the missing ship. We are waiting for another patrol boat to tow MV Sah Lian to bay," Ismaili said. He did not elaborate on the condition of the crew members including the ship's captain as well as the 500 tonne cargo onboard the vessel.

A source close to the agency, however, said all crew members and cargo "are safe", the New Straits Times reported. The ship had departed from Kuching for the town of Limbang on September 2 and its owner lost contact with the vessel the next day, on September 3, while it travelled along Sarawak with the crew that included four Indians.

Ismaili earlier said authorities believed the ship was hijacked and taken out of Malaysian waters. He had also said it could be in Indonesian waters near the Natuna island, an Indonesian archipelago in the South China Sea between Borneo and mainland Malaysia.

Southeast Asian waters are the world's most piracy-prone, according to London-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB). MMEA officials had also said the ship was reported to have a damaged gearbox and propeller crankshaft. However, some media reports quoted Ismaili as saying that the vessel had experienced engine trouble.

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