Malaysia boat capsizes, some reported missing

An overloaded boat carrying an estimated 100 people capsized Tuesday on a remote Malaysian jungle river and some passengers were believed trapped in the vessel, news reports and police said.

The accident occurred on Malaysia's longest river, the Rajang, which flows from deep in the rugged interior of Borneo island in the state of Sarawak, Bakar Anak Sebau, police chief of the remote town of Belaga, told AFP.

"An express boat carrying about 100 people has capsized in a swift-flowing river. I believe there were women and children onboard," he said.

"The boat was overloaded."

He said the boat was ferrying passengers traveling for the Gawai festival, one of the most important festivals celebrated each year by Sarawak's indigenous Dayak people.

Bakar said the boat was believed to have struck a rock while navigating downstream through one of many sections of rapids on the 560-kilometre (347-mile) waterway.

He said the boat's capacity was 74 people.

Police rescuers were heading toward the accident site, he said, adding that he had no information on any casualties.

The Sun newspaper quoted a Sarawak official as saying 20 to 30 people may be trapped in the vessel, which capsized downstream from Belaga.

"We suspect 20 to 30 passengers may be trapped inside the boat which capsized at about 9:00 am," said Liwan Lagang, state assemblyman for Belaga and an assistant Sarawak state tourism minister.