Mon, Jan 19, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Indonesia extends search after deadly ferry disaster

AFP , PARE PARE, INDONESIA

Indonesian authorities have extended the search for the bodies of more than 200 people missing and presumed dead after a ferry sank off Sulawesi Island a week ago, a navy official said yesterday.

Colonel Jaka Santosa, a navy officer coordinating search and rescue efforts, said the search would continue for three more days following requests from relatives of the missing passengers.

“We took into consideration the request from hundreds of victims’ relatives as only a few bodies have been found so far,” he told reporters.

But Santosa said there was little chance of finding any more bodies.

“I do not think there would be more bodies found. It has been too long,” he said.

He said only 35 people had been rescued and eight bodies found since the ferry sank in heavy seas whipped up by a tropical storm in the Makassar Strait early last Sunday.

The manifest of the Teratai Prima showed about 250 passengers and 17 crew were aboard but officials said the ferry may have been carrying 103 people more than those listed.

Indonesians rely on ferries, which connect the main islands of the massive archipelago, but accidents are common and safety regulations are badly enforced.

The disaster is the worst of its kind in Indonesia since December 2006, when a ferry sank in a storm off the coast of Java, killing more than 500 people.

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