KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian authorities have expanded the search area for five Chinese tourists and one Malaysian crew member from a boat that sank in rough seas off eastern Malaysia, an official told AFP Monday. The sinking of the catamaran off Sabah state on Borneo island on Saturday, the first day of the Lunar New Year holiday, sparked a major air and sea search covering some 400 nautical square miles. “The search area is now 1,500 nautical square miles,” Awil Kamsari, a spokesman for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, said. Around 100 officers from the MMEA, navy and air force are involved in the mission as well as a C130 aircraft. Part of the search area falls in Brunei waters and authorities there are using a helicopter to hunt for the missing six. The boat owner reported it missing on Saturday evening. The skipper and a crew member were found alive Sunday off a nearby island, before the discovery of the other survivors. Late Sunday, authorities announced three Chinese passengers were dead.Twenty Chinese tourists were rescued and sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu. He said they managed to survive because of their life jackets and by holding on to objects from the boat.