26 die as Indonesian ferry sinks

26 die as Indonesian ferry sinks

More than 250 pulled alive from stormy sea, several feared missing

26 die as Indonesian ferry sinks

The 147-tonne Dumai Express was sailing from Batam island to Pekanbaru when it went down in high seas off Karimun island, near Singapore in the north of the Indonesian archipelago, police said.

“The latest data (we have are) 250 people were rescued, including the ferry captain and 12 crew members. Twenty-six people have died. We don’t know how many are missing,” navy Lieutenant Colonel Edwin told AFP. Karimun district chief Nurdin Basirun earlier said 21 people had died and 232 had been pulled alive from the stormy seas.

Several trapped

Officials said the death toll could rise as the number of people aboard the ferry when it went down around 10:00 am (0300 GMT) was unknown and many might have been trapped below decks.

Its capacity was 273 passengers and crew, but overcrowding is common on Indonesian ferries. “Strong waves hit the ferry and caused the front part to crack. Water got in and within half an hour it sank,” Edwin said. “The ferry is underwater. We know its position but we have yet to check inside to see if there’s anyone trapped.”

He said the search and rescue efforts had been suspended until first light on Monday. Another ferry, the Dumai Express 15, with 278 people on board, ran aground after it was hit by large waves on Sunday, police said. All passengers and crew survived.

The ferry had been sailing between Batam and Moro island. Indonesia relies heavily on ferry services to connect the many islands in the sprawling archipelago. But accidents are common, largely due to years of under-investment in infrastructure and a tendency to overload ferries.