Dozens feared drowned in Indonesia ferry sinking

  • World
  • Sunday, 10 Jul 2005

By Stuart Grudgings

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

A local search and rescue official said the ferry, which had 35 passengers and 15 crew on its manifest when it sank on Thursday night, might have carried more passengers than were registered. 

"So far we have only recovered 15 survivors. But witnesses said that there could have been more than one hundred people on board," Suparlan, a rescue official, told Reuters. 

Another official said that the weather was bad and it was dark when the ferry sank. 

Officials said that among the 15 rescued, 13 were passengers and two were crew. The boat went down 19 km from Merauke port, 3,750 km east of Jakarta. 

No bodies had been recovered as of Sunday morning and rescuers were still searching the area. 

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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