Indonesian ferry sinks, at least nine dead

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reports from Indonesia now say at least nine people were killed and over 200 rescued today, after a ferry sank in rough waters near Sumatra island.

The Dumai Express 10 was sailing from Batam island to Dumai in Riau province on Sunday morning when it sank. Officials blamed bad weather for the accident, but there have been reports that the ferry was severely overloaded.

Sunaryo, the director-general of sea transport, said the ferry's capacity was 273 people, and only 213 passengers were on the manifest, but one official put the number rescued at 292. Sunaryo said the large disparity between reality and the manifest was a "classic case" of breaking regulations.

Separately, another ferry, the Dumai Express 15 with 278 people on board, ran aground today after it was hit by large waves on its way from Batam to Moro island. Authorities say all passengers and crew survived.

Indonesians rely heavily on ferries to transport them between the thousands of islands that make up the archipelago. Ferry accidents are common due to bad weather, poor infrastructure and a tendency to overload vessels. Around 800 people have been killed in ferry accidents in Indonesia over the past three years, including at least 232 in an accident off Sulawesi in January this year.

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