JOHOR BAHRU: Four more aircraft from various agencies were deployed on Monday (Aug 12) in the search and rescue operation for two Singaporean kayakers who went missing off Mersing, Johor on Thursday.

“We now have five air assets to help us search and locate the missing Singaporeans,” said Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Mersing zone director Commander Haris Fadzillah Abdullah.

He added that the air search has been widened to 900 nautical miles encompassing the east and north of Pulau Tioman in Pahang.

This is nearly double the search area of 500 nautical miles previously.

READ: Search area for missing Singaporean kayakers expanded

The number of people deployed in Monday’s operation has also been increased to 104 compared to 50 on Sunday.

“The local fishermen and members of the public are also assisting the search operation, involving the islands in  Mersing waters,” MMEA added.

Mr Tan Eng Soon, 52, and Ms Puah Geok Tin, 64, drifted off from a group of 13 other Singaporeans while kayaking near the Endau islands on Thursday.

The pair were believed to have been separated from the group due to rough seas and strong winds.

“So far we have not found any leads and are still hoping to find them. That is why the search and rescue has been scaled up,” said Haris Fadzillah, adding that the unpredictable weather and south-west monsoon winds were their biggest challenge.