23 missing Chinese in Malaysia boat sinking found alive: minister

Chen Peijie (2nd L), China's consul-general in Sabah, checks her mobile phone at a jetty in Kota Kinabalu in the Malaysian Borneo state of Sabah on Sunday as she awaits developments after a tourist boat carrying 28 Chinese nationals was reported missing on January 28. (AFP)
Updated 29 January 2017

23 missing Chinese in Malaysia boat sinking found alive: minister

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Twenty-three Chinese tourists and two crew members have survived after their boat sank in rough seas off eastern Malaysia but six people are still missing, a minister said on Sunday.
The sinking of the catamaran on Saturday, the first day of the Lunar New Year holiday, sparked a major air and sea search covering some 400 nautical square miles.
The operation would continue overnight to try to save five missing Chinese and one crew member, said Shahidan Kassim, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.
“We will deploy search assets that can operate at night, and continue our rescue operations to locate those who are still missing,” he told a press conference in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sabah on Borneo island.
All three crew members are Malaysians.
The boat had left Saturday morning from the Sabah state capital Kota Kinabalu en route for Pulau Mengalum, an island known for its pristine beaches and dive sites.
The boat owner reported it missing on Saturday evening.
The skipper and one of the two crew members were found alive earlier Sunday off a nearby island, before the discovery of the other survivors.
“According to the skipper, the boat was ‘broken’ after being hit by waves and sank,” said Ahmad Puzi Kahar, head of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, in a statement.
The tourists were tied together and were carried away by the current, Puzi said, without specifying whether they were wearing life jackets.
The search and rescue involved officers from the maritime agency, the police, the navy and the air force.
Malaysian navy chief Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin said navy ships and a C130 aircraft were on site for the search.
It was “so sad as it happened on CNY (Chinese New Year),” he tweeted.
Roughs seas and strong winds hampered the search on Saturday night and Sunday, authorities said.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said he was closely monitoring developments.
Chinese President Xi Jinping “demanded all-out search and rescue efforts” by Malaysia, his country’s official Xinhua news agency reported.
It added that an emergency team, led by an official from Beijing’s national tourism administration, had been set up to handle the incident.
China’s foreign ministry said its consulate in Kota Kinabalu had contacted Malaysian authorities and urged them to do everything they could to rescue the tourists.
“Yesterday was the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year and it should have been a happy day. Unfortunately, such a bad thing happened,” China’s consul-general in Sabah, Chen Peijie, was quoted as saying by state news agency Bernama.
An earlier disaster involving Chinese visitors to Malaysia — the unexplained disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines plane in March 2014 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing — soured relations between the two nations for a time.
Most of the 239 people on board were Chinese, and Malaysian authorities were fiercely criticized for allegedly giving scanty or inaccurate information.
The latest incident came about a week after a boat tragedy off the southern Malaysian state of Johor.
Several bodies washed ashore at a beach near the east coast town of Mersing in Johor on Monday after a boat believed to be carrying some 40 Indonesian illegal immigrants capsized in rough seas.


UK to reopen thousands of shops in easing of coronavirus lockdown, says Boris Johnson

Updated 25 May 2020

UK to reopen thousands of shops in easing of coronavirus lockdown, says Boris Johnson

  • From June 1, outdoor markets and car showrooms could be reopened
  • Johnson is keen to restart an economy which has been all but shut down since Britain entered a lockdown

LONDON: Britain will reopen thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centers next month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, setting out a timetable for businesses as part of moves to ease the coronavirus lockdown.
He told a news conference that from June 1, outdoor markets and car showrooms could be reopened as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines, and all other non-essential retail from June 15 if the government’s tests are met.
Johnson is keen to restart an economy which has been all but shut down since Britain entered a lockdown to try to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, but also fears a second peak of infection if measures are eased too quickly.

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“Today, I want to give the retail sector notice of our intentions to reopen shops, so they too can get ready,” Johnson said. “There are careful but deliberate steps on the road to rebuilding our country.”
The government said shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, would be expected to be able to reopen from June 15, giving them three weeks to prepare.
It said that businesses would only be able to open from those dates once they had completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks.
“The high street sits at the heart of every community in the country,” Business minister Alok Sharma said in a statement.
“Enabling these businesses to open will be a critical step on the road to rebuilding our economy, and will support millions of jobs across the UK.”