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Indonesia ferry sinks in heavy seas, scores rescued KUPANG - An Indonesian naval vessel rescued scores of survivors in the early hours of Wednesday after a ferry carrying more than 100 people sank in heavy seas in the country's east overnight, port officials said. The navy ship had picked up 74 people, one port official, Marthen Manu, said. After initial sunny skies, heavy rain had whipped up the seas again, hindering rescue efforts, he said.

The ferry was travelling from Kupang on Indonesia's side of Timor island to nearby Rote island when authorities lost contact with it on Tuesday night, officials said. "Last night one person was rescued, the rest have been picked up today," Manu said, adding there was no information on a confirmed death toll. Passengers had enough time to put on life vests before the ferry sank, one survivor told local television.

There were 86 passengers and 20 crew on board the ferry according to the manifest, although some people normally boarded without paying for tickets, officials said. A state shipping company had sent out one of its vessels to search for survivors but it had to turn back because of rough seas, an official from the firm, Yohanes Yan Lilin said.

"This morning we sent a ship to search for the missing ferry. However, after 10 minutes it came back because of the heavy seas," Lilin said. A naval surveillance plane had joined the search for the sunken vessel, which was also carrying a number of cars and trucks. Kupang lies 1,900 km east of Jakarta.

Ferries are the most common means of transport for people wishing to travel around the 17,000 islands of the world's largest archipelagic nation, where sea connections are much cheaper and more available than air routes. But safety standards are not strictly enforced and many ferries are overcrowded. A number sink each year, especially in the eastern and less developed parts of the country. The passenger capacity of the latest ferry to sink was not immediately known.



Posted in Accidents @ 01 February 2006 07:10 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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