Indonesian ferry with 200 people sinks

November 22, 2009 12:00 am

, JAKARTA, Nov 22 – A ferry carrying more than 200 people sank off Indonesia\’s Sumatra island, possibly due to bad weather, police said Sunday.

The Dumai Express was sailing from Batam island to Pekanbaru in Riau province when it went down at around 10:00 am (0300 GMT) off Karimun island near Singapore, local police official Boy Herlambang told AFP.

"The ship\’s manifest listed 213 passengers and 13 crew members including the ship\’s captain," he said. "Right now, many of them are still floating in the water and we\’re trying to rescue them as quickly as possible.

"The boat sank likely due to heavy rain and big waves and it is difficult to get to them because of bad weather conditions."

A search and rescue team and fishermen have managed to rescue "a number of passengers", sea transport director-general Sunaryo told AFP.

"I\’m not able to say how many were missing. Fishermen have rescued 15 passengers. And the rescue team have also managed to give life jackets to those in the water. I believe we will be able to rescue a large number of them," he added.

Sunaryo said the ferry was not overloaded.

"The maximum capacity is 273 people so the ferry was not overloaded. It sank due to very bad weather," he added.

Indonesia\’s 234 million people are spread across 17,000 islands and are heavily dependent on a network of ships and boats, which have a poor safety record.

Up to 335 people were killed when a ferry sank off Sulawesi island in January. In December 2006 a ferry went down in a storm off the coast of Java, killing more than 500 people.


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