The death toll from an overcrowded ferry that sank off eastern Indonesia early yesterday has risen to 12, officials said, as search-and-rescue teams scoured the choppy waters.
Ninety-three people, including the captain were rescued, but officials feared others were trapped inside the sunken vessel, Sulawesi Island police chief Brigadier-General Sigit Sudarmanto said. The Windu Karsa, traveling from the town of Bajoe to Kolaka, went down just after midnight in waters off southern Sulawesi, with many passengers were sleeping.
Survivors told investigators that the ship capsized hours after a leak was discovered in the stern.
“Many of those pulled from the water were not wearing life jackets,” Sudarmanto said. “They just had on pajamas or sarongs.”
Two of the dead were children, he said. It is not clear how many people were onboard the ship.
The manifest — generally unreliable in Indonesia because tickets are sold onboard to passengers who are never registered — listed only 57 passengers and 20 crew, Sudarmanto said.
Many were heading home to celebrate the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
Search and Rescue official Budi Rahardjo said two more bodies were recovered at Lasuroro Island on Saturday as rescue teams took to the air and sea, using a helicopter, six ships and a speedboat to search for more victims, but high waves were hampering rescue efforts.
Ferries are a main source of transportation in Indonesia with more than 17,000 islands and a population of 240 million. Sea accidents are often caused by overcrowding and poor safety standards.