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Boat sinks off Ambon; upto 65 die AMBON - Some 70 people were feared to have drowned after an overloaded boat carrying more than 200 passengers sank in eastern Indonesia, officials said yesterday. The Masohi Star went down on Sunday night after travelling just 500 metres from the shore of Ambon Island, said Lieutenant-Colonel Marten Luther Djari, an adviser to the provincial governor.
Five bodies have been recovered so far but at least 65 people are still missing, presumed dead. Lt-Col Djari said police were questioning the skipper of the boat, which was reportedly returning to port to reduce its load when it went down. Hospital and government officials said the boat was carrying 200 to 300 passengers, 130 of whom survived and have been treated at Ambon hospitals.
Passengers who could swim were rescued but the rest have probably died, said Amin Kaliwawa, an officer at the police operations centre. ``Those still missing are presumed dead,'' Mr Kaliwawa said. Although the Masohi Star is believed to have sunk 150 metres to the bottom of the bay, military vessels and private speedboats continued to search the area yesterday, Mr Kaliwawa said.
Local officials set up a reporting centre for people whose relatives have not been found. As of last night it had received 65 reports from people whose relatives are missing, said Lt-Col Djari. ``Until now, five people have been found dead,'' he said. ``We have received five bodies and treated more than 116 people since last night,'' Mien Marasabessy, a member of staff at the Al-Fatah hospital in Ambon, said.
Another 10 people were taken to the Latumeten military hospital, said Jaffar, a soldier on duty there. ``A total of 130 people were saved last night but we fear that a lot more passengers are missing,'' Mr Jaffar said. Lt-Col Djari called the tragedy ``a pure accident'' but could not say what caused it. Some passengers said the vessel was overcrowded. The state news agency Antara quoted witnesses as saying the boat sank after the captain tried to return to Ambon's Slamet Riyadi port to drop off some passengers and cargo.
Lt-Col Djari said the Masohi Star had a capacity of 180 passengers. Although 104 people bought tickets and boarded the vessel, preliminary counting indicated about 200 people were aboard, Lt-Col Djari said. Officials were still trying to confirm the actual number of passengers. ``There were too many passengers. Before the boat went down the water was already up to the windows,'' Hadijah Wael, one of the survivors, was quoted as saying by the Republika newspaper. Most of the dead were children and elderly who could not swim, he said.



Posted in Accidents @ 05 November 2002 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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