Tue, Jan 09, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Indonesian ferry victims rescued

WEEK AT SEA 15 survivors were found in a life raft but unfortunately one, who was in critical condition, died within a few hours during the journey to Makassar, Sulawesi

AFP , JAKARTA

A ship rescued 15 people who had spent nine days in a life raft after their ferry sank in a storm off the coast of Java, but one of them died on the way to port, an official said yesterday.

"They were picked up from a life raft by a passing ship around 9:07pm last night just east of Kangean [island]," said I Ketut Parwa, who heads the Bali search and rescue office.

Kangean is 160km north of Bali and some 400km east of the estimated location where the ferry sank.

All 15 people were still alive when rescued, but one who was in a critical condition died a few hours later on the way to Makassar on Sulawesi, Parwa said.

The Senopati Nusantara, carrying around 600 people, was en route from Kumai on Borneo to Semarang in Central Java when it sank in a storm on the night of Dec. 29.

Some 250 survivors have been rescued so far, plucked from the seas, off life rafts and from oil rigs and islands in the Java Sea.

Another group of 15 was rescued last Friday, also off Kangean island, after nearly a week on the open seas, when the KRI Layang picked up 15 people from the Senopati -- and 14 survivors of another shipwreck.

The search for hundreds still missing has been extended to waters off the resort island of Bali as currents have carried survivors hundreds of kilometers east of where the ship sank.

Search and rescue efforts have been hampered by rough seas, with smaller vessels having been banned from going to sea.

The exact location of the wreck is unknown. Officials said the navy would not be able to start the search using sonar until conditions improved.

Preliminary investigations show poor conditions were to blame for the accident, transport safety officials have said.

The vessel was carrying 542 passengers and 57 crew. It was licensed to carry 850.

Ferries are a crucial link between the archipelago nation's 17,000 islands.

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