Stranded RI sailors to be repatriated from Malaysia

The Indonesian consulate in Kinibalu in the western Malaysian state of Sabah will soon to repatriate 11 Indonesian sailors stranded on Malaysian territory after drifting in a lifeboat in the open sea for six days.

They had been set adrift in the lifeboat by pirates who had hijacked their Singapore-flagged freighter near Tioman Island when sailing from Singapore to Cambodia last week, an Indonesian embassy official told Antara news agency in Kuala Lumpur.

"The pirates put the freighter's entire crew in the lifeboat, except the engineer who is also an Indonesian. The fate of the ship and its engineer is still unknown," Sahar Andika Putra, transportation attache at the Indonesian Embassy, said Saturday.

He said the 11 Indonesians were lowered onto the sea in a lifeboat and left behind by the pirates who had taken over the freighter.

After drifting around in the open sea for about six days, the 11 Indonesian sailors ran aground near a Malaysian Navy post in Sabah. Local Malaysian authorities later handed them over to the Indonesian consulate general in Kinabalu.

The 11 Indonesian crew members were identified as Hardin (skipper), Ryan, Wawan, Alamanar, Isman, Haryanto, Herewan, Dedy, Aziz, Rudi Hartono and Hamzah.

The freighter's engineer still being held the pirates was Nurman Sulaiman.

"The whereabouts of Nurman and the vessel is still unknown," Sahar said.

The pirated ship was the Singaporean-flagged "TB Asta" which was carrying sand from Singapore to Cambodia.