Ferry Tragedy Kills At Least 29, Rescue Teams to Resume Searching Today

By webadmin on 01:44 am Nov 23, 2009
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Nurfika Osman

Rescue teams will resume searching today for survivors and victims of a ferry that sank on Sunday off the east coast of Sumatra with hundreds of passengers aboard, killing at least 29, officials said.

The 147-ton Dumai Express 10 was sailing from Batam to Dumai, both in Riau Islands province, when it went down in high seas off Karimun Island around 9:30 a.m.

Rustam Pakaya, head of the Ministry of Health’s Crisis Center, said 29 passengers were confirmed dead, 245 were rescued, and 17 were missing. “A medical team will be sent to the scene from Batam” to assist survivors and recover victims, he told the Jakarta Globe.

Also on Sunday, a second ferry, the Dumai Express 15, ran aground amid high waves on Riau’s Moro Island. All 278 passengers and crew members were rescued, officials said.

Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang S Ervan said it was still investigating the cause of the sinking of the Dumai Express 10, but Agence France-Presse reported on Sunday that the ferry, which had a capacity of 273, was overloaded with passengers, a chronic problem among Indonesian ferries.

Riau police chief Sekupang Dasrul said the hull of  the ferry had developed a leak when a big wave hit it near Hiu Island.

Navy spokesman Iskandar Sitompul said the vessel sank after being hit by waves as high as three meters. “We’re not sure if anyone is trapped in the ferry. Those who have been  rescued are traumatized,” he said, adding that navy ships were helping with the
search and rescue effort.

Sunaryo, the Transportation Ministry’s director general of sea transportation, said the ferry might have sunk because ocean swells were up to six meters.

Officials said the death toll could rise as other passengers might have been trapped below decks. The passenger manifest said the ship  was carrying 228 passengers, including 15 children and 12 crew members.