Sat, Mar 20, 2004 - Page 6 News List

21 drown in Indonesian wedding cruise tragedy

REUTERS , JAKARTA

At least 21 people were killed and five were missing after an Indonesian ferry carrying scores of wedding revellers capsized in rough seas, officials said yesterday.

There were 180 passengers aboard the Beringin Jaya when the boat flipped over on Thursday off the remote island of Kabaruang between Indonesia's Sulawesi island and the Philippines, Tahuna District Naval Base official Captain Zulkarnain said.

He said the latest information was "150 people survived, 21 were found dead, five are still missing, and four are being treated at a local hospital."

Police and navy estimates of the number on board had earlier ranged between 200 and 300.

"There were so many people on that boat, and many people jumped on even way after the ticket booth was closed," said Captain Alamsyah, a spokesman at the main North Sulawesi naval base in Manado city.

One navy source said a large party on board was going to a wedding on Kabaruang island, and that the boat capsized due to over-crowding.

Kabaruang is in the Sangihe Talaud archipelago, about 2,500km northeast of Jakarta.

A huge number of ferries ply the waters of Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, and accidents, often caused by overcrowding or bad weather, occur periodically.

The number of passengers a ferry is registered to carry is often much less than the actual number on board.

The worst boat accident in recent years in Indonesia took place in June 2000 when an overcrowded vessel carrying almost 500 passengers, mostly refugees fleeing sectarian violence, sank in bad weather. Only 10 survived.

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