16 dead in Indonesia ferry accident – official

Agence France-Presse
(3rd UPDATE) Images from the latest accident shows passengers clinging to the side of the KM Lestari as it lists in waters off Sulawesi island, while other passengers float in the sea awaiting help

SINKING. This handout picture taken and released on July 3, 2018 by Indonesia's Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), the accident mitigation agency, shows passengers clinging to the side of a ferry as it sank off the coast of Selayar island, in South Sulawesi province. Handout photo by Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana/AFP

JAKARTA, Indonesia (3rd UPDATE) –  At least 16 people, including two children, died on Tuesday, July 3, after a ferry ran aground off the coast of Indonesia, officials said, as rescuers raced to save scores of other passengers thought to be aboard the vessel.

The deadly incident comes the same day authorities officially called off the search for more than 160 people still missing after another ferry sank on a popular tourist lake in Sumatra two weeks ago.

Images from the latest accident showed passengers clinging to the side of the KM Lestari as it listed in waters off Sulawesi island, while other passengers floated in the sea awaiting help.

The ferry ran aground about 300 meters (985 feet) from the coast, Indonesia’s transportation agency said, as waves swamped trucks and other vehicles on the boat’s deck before they plunged into the water.

Sixteen bodies have been recovered, with 39 survivors, but authorities have not yet accounted for all 139 people listed in the ship’s manifest, said Darfian Mukri, head of the local disaster agency.

“The joint search and rescue team and fisherman are still trying to rescue victims on board the boat,” Mukri told AFP.

“The number of passengers that are still trapped on the boat is not yet known.”

A fleet of smaller boats was working to save passengers as bad weather was preventing larger vessels from getting near the location, the transportation ministry said.

It added that passengers had been wearing life jackets.

The 48-metrer vessel was sailing from Sulawesi to nearby Selayar island when it ran into strong winds and high waves.

Deadly maritime accidents are not uncommon in Indonesia, where many people depend on boats to get around the 17,000 island archipelago nation despite lax safety standards. – Rappler.com