Christian missionaries in Indonesia are calling upon the international community to pray, as 5 Indonesians were pronounced dead and 35 still missing after a boat capsized a short distance from Malaysia's west coast.
"Please pray for those still missing in this tragic accident," says Micheal Viveros, an American missionary currently pastoring a small village church in Jakarta, Indonesia.
"This is a very sad time for our community. We urge Christians around the world to pray that they will be found alive, and for the Lord to send comfort to the victim's families."
Fox News reports that the boat, which was carrying 97 passengers, sank shortly after midnight about 2 nautical miles from shore on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur while trying to leave Malaysia illegally for Aceh province in Indonesia, said agency official Mohamad Hambali Yaakup.
Yaakup said at least 60 passengers survived the shipwreck, including 12 women and a child. Among those dead were a woman and four men, he added. The passengers are thought to be illegal immigrants heading home ahead of the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
Survivors are currently being questioned by police and immigration authorities. In the meantime, a ship, eight boats and a helicopter were searching for further survivors. Police Superintendent Azman Abdul Razak said 100 personnel were involved in the rescue effort.
Mohamad Hambali says while authorities are still uncertain as to what caused the boat to sink, some survivors say the boat was overcrowded and leaking.
Fox News reports that tens of thousands of Indonesians work illegally in plantations and other industries in Malaysia, often risking dangerous journeys in unseaworthy or poorly equipped boats to return home.
In recent years, the number of migrant worker deaths resulting from shipwrecks has sharply increased.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Navy rescued 282 African migrants from six small vessels in the Mediterranean Sea after one of the boats began to sink. Last October, more than 300 African migrants were killed in a shipwreck off Lampedusa , shocking the world and prompting lawmakers to review their migration policies.
The area the boat sank is in the Strait of Malacca directly across from Indonesia.