Dozens dead as Indonesia ferry catches fire

© Provided by AFP. Rescuers search a charred remains of a passenger boat after it caught fire while ferrying around 200 people off the coast of Jakarta to Tidung island, a tourist destination 50 kilometres (30 miles).
23 dead as Indonesia passenger boat catches fire: official

At least 23 people have been killed and 17 are missing after a passenger boat caught fire on Sunday near Jakarta, according to officials.

The boat was ferrying around 200 people from Jakarta to Tidung island -- a tourist destination 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the capital -- on Sunday morning when the fire broke out, according to the national disaster agency.

"194 people have been rescued. The boat's manifest says there are around 100 people on board, but obviously that's wrong, so we are still searching," disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told AFP.

A rescue team has been deployed to search for the missing passengers.

The Indonesian archipelago of more than 17,000 islands is heavily dependent on boat transport, but safety standards are lax and fatal accidents common.

At least 54 people died in November when an overcrowded speedboat carrying three crew and 98 passengers -- mostly Indonesian migrant workers -- struck a reef and sunk on its way from Malaysia to Batam.


Tourist ferry catches fire, killing dozens in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia - At least 23 people were killed and 17 others were missing after a ferry caught fire Sunday off the coast of Indonesia’s capital, officials said.

The vessel was carrying more than 230 people from Jakarta’s port of Muara Angke to Tidung, a resort island in the Kepulauan Seribu chain, when it caught fire, officials said. Most of the passengers were Indonesians celebrating the New Year’s holiday, according to local media reports.

Seply Madreta, an official from the local Disaster Mitigation Agency, said the fire gutted around half the ship. He said that about 22 injured victims were rushed to hospitals, and that 23 bodies had been recovered.

A search involving around 10 ships was underway to find those who were missing, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said in a statement.

Witnesses told MetroTV that the fire broke out about 15 minutes after the ship left Muara Angke.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear. Some passengers told local media that they first saw smoke coming from the ferry’s engine.

TV footage showed people in the water with the ferry in flames in the background. A woman in the water can be heard screaming “Ya Allah! Ya Allah!” or “Oh God! Oh God!”

Another woman told the TV station that she and other passengers were rescued by a small boat.

Ferry accidents are common in Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelagic nation, with more than 17,000 islands. Many accidents are blamed on lax regulation of boat services.


Indonesia: Ferry blaze off Jakarta kills 23

The Zahro Express ferry was carrying more than 230 people to Tidung island, a resort some 50km (30 miles) from the capital, Jakarta.

Officials said it burst into flames about 1.5km from Muara Angke port in Jakarta, shortly after setting sail.
Reports said many jumped into the sea. An official told BBC Indonesia that 194 people were rescued.
Nine remain in hospital.

"Fifteen minutes after the boat set sail, people at the back of the boat started making noise," one passenger told local media.

"Then I saw smoke, there was more and more, the boat was crowded and people were fighting for life jackets."
Another passenger said thick smoke suddenly filled the cabin.

"All passengers panicked and ran up to the deck to throw floats into the water. In a split second, the fire becomes bigger coming from where fuel is stored," Reuters news agency quoted the passenger as saying.

The remains of the boat were towed back to Jakarta, where images showed the devastation caused by the blaze.
Reports suggested those on board were Indonesians heading to Tidung, which is part of the Thousand Islands chain, to celebrate the new year holiday.

A disaster agency spokesman told AFP news agency the ship was carrying more than double the number of people listed on its manifest.

Ferries are a key form of transport in Indonesia, which is made up of thousands of islands.
But safety records are poor, with ferries often overcrowded and poorly maintained.

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