Dozens feared dead as Indonesian ferry capsizes

  • World
  • Sunday, 10 Jul 2005

By Marc Serota

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Scores of people are missing, feared dead after an Indonesian ferry capsized in rough seas off Papua in the east of the vast archipelago, local officials said on Sunday. 

So far just 15 survivors have been found, but rescue officials said witnesses had reported seeing more than 100 on board when the vessel went down. 

"I think the possibility of finding them alive is thin now. All members of the rescue team had returned to the base," Sutarjo, also from the local search and rescue team, told Reuters. 

"We will continue our search effort tomorrow. I think a lot of them are still trapped inside the boat." 

The ferry had 35 passengers and 15 crew on its manifest when it sank on Thursday night 19 km from Merauke Port, 3,750 km east of Jakarta. 

Another rescue official said: "So far we have only recovered 15 survivors ... But witnesses said that there could have been more than 100 people on board." 

The 15 survivors are 13 passengers and two crew. No bodies had been recovered as of Sunday evening. 

Overcrowding is common on local ferries in Indonesia where safety standards are not strictly enforced. A number of ferries sink each year. 

Reports of sinkings can sometimes take days to reach Jakarta from remote areas. 

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