Scores feared drowned in Indonesia ferry sinking

  • World
  • Monday, 11 Jul 2005

By Stuart Grudgings

JAKARTA (Reuters) - More than a 100 people may have drowned after a ferry capsized in rough seas off Indonesia's remote Papua province in the country's east four days ago, a senior rescue official said on Monday. 

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

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

"We cannot predict how many are still trapped in the boat. Survivors say there were 200 or above 100 on board," Sumpeno Yuwono, head of the Merauke rescue agency, told Reuters by telephone. 

"From our experience, when we reach the fourth day of rescue, there is a big chance we will not find any survivors," he said. 

Sumpeno said five boats had been deployed on Monday in a search and rescue mission. 

"If possible, we will flip the ferry into normal position so that the evacuation process can become easier," he said. 

The 15 survivors are 13 passengers and two crew. 

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. Swamp-surrounded Merauke is located at the southeastern tip of the world's largest archipelagic country. 

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