Rescuers have recovered 14 bodies of victims of a June 17 boat accident in Maluku waters, while 44 others remained missing on Tuesday.
The manifest of the wooden boat KM Putri Ayu indicated that there were 27 people on board when the ship departed from Ambon toward Namrole, in the neighboring district of Buru Selatan, before capsizing and sinking midway in rough weather and high waves.
But the exact number of passengers remains unclear, with the Ambon office of the National Search and Rescue Agency saying there were actually 72 people on board, comprised of 60 passengers and 12 crew members. Twelve survivors were reportedly pulled from the waters in the initial days of the rescue effort.
“With the finding of the 14 people, then 44 others, comprised of passengers and crew members who departed from Slamet Riyadi Port in Ambon at about 9:30 p.m. on Saturday evening [June 16], remain missing,” Kifly Wakanno, the secretary of the Maluku office of the Disaster Mitigation Agency, said in Ambon on Tuesday.
Rescue efforts concluded on Saturday of last week, as rescuers failed to find more passengers in the second half of the six-day search.
Dead bodies washed up on the shore of Kelang island, in the Maluku district of West Seram, on Sunday and Monday.
Witnesses’ reports suggest that the boat sank due to overcapacity and crew members’ ignorance of impending bad weather at the time of its departure. Maluku Governor Karel Albert Ralahalu has urged the National Committee for Transportation Safety (KNKT) to investigate the cause of the incident.