33 rescued from capsized Indonesian ferry

January 13th, 2009 - 12:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Jakarta, Jan 13 (DPA) Thirty three people were rescued two days after a passenger ferry capsized off the Indonesian province of West Sulawesi, officials said Tuesday.The body of one of the boat’s passengers had been found and was taken ashore by a navy warship, while eight survivors were picked up from the rough seas, said an official in the West Sulawesi port town of Majene.

He said seven of the survivors were picked up by a cargo vessel that passed around the sunken ferry and were taken to the Makassar port.

By late Monday, a total of 33 survivors were reported to have survived the accident.

The ferry, Teratai Prima, left Pare-Pare on Sulawesi island in central Indonesia Saturday evening for Samarinda, East Kalimantan.

The boat sank before dawn Sunday off the coast of Majene in West Sulawesi after being hit by waves as high as four metres in bad weather, survivors said.

Most passengers were asleep and had little time to react.

Transport Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal Monday blamed the accident on the bad weather and said a thorough investigation would be made, in particular of the lack of coordination between port officials in Pare-Pare and the captain of the ferry, who survived the disaster.

Jusman said the country’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency had issued warnings that huge waves and storms would occur in the sea-lane between Sulawesi and Borneo islands.

A search team of hundreds of marine, army and police officers supported by four warships, two marine police boats, search and rescue vessels and fishing boats, as well as two aircraft from the Indonesian Air Force and Navy, continued their search for the missing people, officials said.

Authorities also ordered all ships passing though the area to look for possible survivors or the bodies of those missing.

The ferry accident was the latest in a series of marine disasters in recent years in Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands that depends heavily on ocean transport.

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