LAHAD DATU – A tugboat belonging to a Tawau-based local company was found without five of its crew members in the waters off Dent Haven, Tambisan about 2pm yesterday, sparking off fear of another kidnapping in the east coast of Sabah.
It is understood that the tugboat was found with the engine still running by fishermen in the area without the crew, believed to consist of five Malaysians aged between 26 and 62.
The tugboat was understood to be ferrying sand from Semporna to Lahad Datu and expected to reach its destination around 8am yesterday.
Sabah Commissioner of Police Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun said that police were investigating the reports and were waiting for confirmation from his officers.
He will be holding a press conference at 12pm today.
District police chief ACP Hamzah Ahmad also said police were still investigating the matter.
It was believed that the contents of the boat were found mostly intact but strewn about.
The authorities were in contact with the owner of the boat to investigate the missing crewmen. – BorneoPost
It is learnt that the 66-year-old owner of the ship had lodged a police report about his missing crew.
He told the police that there had been no contact with the five sailors.
The police were checking whether the tugboat was abandoned by the crewmen over disputes with the owner or other possibilities, including kidnapping.
It was later taken to the Lahad Datu marine base for further investigations.
Several Malaysians and Indonesians have been kidnapped in the eastern coast of Sabah this year.
The latest were three Indonesian crewmen of a fishing trawler in the waters off Lahad Datu on July 9.
On June 8, four Malaysian crew members — brothers Wong Teck Kang and Wong Teck Chii, their cousin, Johnny Lau Jung Hien and Wong Hung Sing — were released by the militant Abu Sayyaf group after they were held captive in southern Philippines for about three months.
They were kidnapped while sailing a tugboat between the Philippines and Sarawak.