Seven killed in Indonesian ferry fire

September 26th, 2008 - 7:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Jakarta, Sep 26 (DPA) At least seven people were killed and five injured as a ferry carrying some 60 people caught fire Friday in rough seas off the eastern Indonesian island on Malaku province.The Usaha Baru motorized ferry was en route from Ambon port of Tagalaya to three other small islands on Maluku province when it caught fire Friday morning, the state-run Antara news agency reported.

Port officials said that the fire engulfed the ferry after sailing about four hours, panicking all people as they jumped off into the rough sea for safety.

Officials quoted survivors as saying the fire broke out from the ferry’s engine room.

Most of the passengers were travelling to their hometowns to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Most of the survivors were rescued by nearby residents and fishermen, but seven people were killed in the accident and five others suffering burn injuries, the report said.

A local harbour official and head of the Ambon’s search and rescue team said the ill-fated ferry was carrying 48 passengers and a crew of 22.

Indonesia is a vast archipelago nation of more than 17,000 islands and ferries provide popular and cheap transportation for the country’s more than 230 million people.

However, the government has failed to enforce strict safety standards. In late December 2006, a passenger ferry carrying more than 600 people capsized in rough seas off Java island and more than 300 of them remain missing.

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