Nearly 80 people still missing after Indonesia boat sinking

Police says search and rescue teams have still not found stricken vessel

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Indonesia: More than 70 still missing after boat sinks

Indonesia teams continued searching Monday for more than 70 people missing after a passenger boat sank off southern Sulawesi island.

A total of 39 people have been rescued and three found dead since the vessel – whose manifest said 116 people were on board -- was overcome by large waves Saturday afternoon.

A spokesperson for South and West Sulawesi Police said Monday that search efforts would focus on the area off the coast of North Kolaka regency due to the likelihood of victims drifting to that area.

"The SAR [search and rescue] operation today will focus to Southeast Sulawesi coast, especially in North Kolaka coastal area, because we predict that the wind direction moves toward there and most of the survivors have been evacuated from that area," quoted Commissioner Frans Barung Mangera as saying.

Roki Asikin, the SAR Agency (Basarnas) chief for South Sulawesi, told the Tribun Makassar newspaper that Basarnas would deploy one helicopter, three ships and four rubber boats to the area.

A fisherman who rescued four of the survivors, Amiruddin, recalled spotting a woman and a boy with floats bobbing on the sea while he was fishing Sunday morning.

"I heard her scream for help," he told the newspaper, adding that he had also pulled two other survivors from the water in the same location.

The KM Marina had been traveling from Kolaka regency, Southeast Sulawesi province, to Wajo city to the west when it was hit by large waves Saturday afternoon and its crew reported to port authorities that the vessel had begun taking in water.

More than a dozen of those reportedly on board were children.

Bad weather conditions and waves more than five meters high have been hampering the search for passengers and the boat.

Indonesia's waterways serve as a widespread form of transportation in some areas of the country, where accidents resulting from overcrowded boats and lax safety standards are common.