Police have not dismissed the possibility that five crew of a tugboat that was found abandoned off Dent Heaven, Tambisan yesterday had been abducted.
However, Sabah Police Commissioner Abdul Rashid Harun said police and families of the crew have not received any calls form anyone demanding for ransom.
He said the crew were all Malaysians. Two of them have been identified as Abd Rahim Summas, 62, the boat skipper, from Kampung Tanjung Batu, Tawau and Tayudin Anjut, 45, from Kampung Tanjung Batu Darat, Tawau.
The others are Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 32, from Felda Jengka 7, Bandar Jengka, Pahang; Fandy Bakran, 26, from Kampung Pukat, Tawau; and Mohamad Jumadil Rahim, 23, from Batu 2 Jalan Apas, Tawau.
“The five could not be contacted. Police are investigating the case,” he told a press conference in Lahad Datu today.
Abdul Rashid said the five crew in the tugboat registered as Surudong 3 had been towing a barge, Surudong 4 from Sandakan at 8am on Sunday and scheduled to reach Semporna at 5pm.
He said the tugboat and the barge belonged to a local company operating in Tawau.
According to him, around 2pm yesterday, the crew of another tugboat, Sabah Tug 9 who were on their way from Jeroco Kretam Kinabatangan to Tawau spotted the Serudong 3 and Serudong 4 at the sandbank off Dent Heaven near Tambisa.
“The Sabah Tug 9 captain sensing something amiss contacted his employer by telephone before continuing the journey to Tawau. On the same day at 2.35pm, two Marine police speedboats were dispatched to the location.
“An inspection found that the tugboat engine was still running but the navigation compass was missing and there was no crew member in sight,” he said.
Abdul Rashid said the location where the tugboat and barge were found was about 35 to 40 minutes from international waters.
He said he could not eleborate on the incident as he had not received confirmation that the crew had been abducted.
He said the tugboat and barge would be towed to the Marine police base in Lahad Datu today.