Bodies wash up on Malaysian coast

Bodies wash up on Malaysian coast
A handout picture released on 26 January 2016 by the Royal Malaysian Police showing a damaged boat used by Indonesian immigrants stranded at a beach in Kota Tinggi, Johor state, Malaysia, 26 January 2016Image copyright EPA
Image caption The boat capsized after it was hit by strong waves off Malaysia

Police are searching for survivors after a boat capsized off the coast of Malaysia, killing at least 13 people, officials say.

Police say the bodies of nine women and four men were found washed up on a beach in Johor state early on Tuesday.

Those on board were thought to be illegal migrants or workers from Indonesia, they added.

Thousands of Indonesians work illegally in plantations and other industries in Malaysia.

They often risk dangerous sea journeys to bypass border controls when they enter Malaysia or return home.

District police chief Rahmat Othman said he believed up to 35 people could have been on board the boat, and a search and rescue operation was under way.

An Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters that "ID cards from Indonesia" were found on the bodies of the 13 victims.

Accidents off Malaysia's coast are relatively common as illegal migrants try to find work in the relatively affluent country.

It is also a key transit hub for asylum seekers fleeing unrest in their own countries, such as in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

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