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Indonesia

At least one person dead after a ferry with 80 passengers sinks in Indonesia’s Lake Toba

The Sinar Bangun ferry sank in rough weather at around 5.30pm on Monday, about a mile from the port of Tigaras, while carrying passengers from the lake’s Samosir Island

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2018, 2:47am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2018, 9:15pm

Rescuers searching on Tuesday for dozens of people missing after a ferry sank on Indonesia’s Lake Toba have found bags, jackets, an ID card and other items in the waters but no new survivors.

Police said in a statement that 18 people were rescued and one body was recovered, unchanged from figures released by disaster and police officials nearly a day earlier on Monday evening. It released the names of 94 people confirmed as missing but said the figure is expected to change as information from relatives is compiled.

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Mobile phone video released by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency shows the crew of another ferry trying to rescue people struggling in the waters soon after the sinking but being hampered by bad weather and rough waters. Distraught relatives have gathered at major ferry docks on the lake, hoping for news of missing family members.

Budiawan, the head of the search and rescue agency in the nearby city of Medan, said the overcrowded boat was filled with an estimated 150 people and 55 motorbikes. Officials are relying on reports from the families of victims and survivors to estimate the number of victims. Budiawan, who uses one name, said the vessel did not have a passenger manifest.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the boat sank at about 5:30pm on Monday as it sailed from the mainland to an island.

A survivor identified by Indonesian television as Juwita Sumbayak said the vessel was rocked by high waves and hit a by a wooden boat before suddenly sinking.

“I was desperate. I was scared to death. I’m afraid my family is dead,” she said, weeping.

The 1,145-sq km (440-square mile) Lake Toba, formed out of an ancient super volcano, is a popular sightseeing destination on the island of Sumatra.

The police statement said that on Tuesday morning the search had found several bags including one containing a mobile phone and ID, jackets and other clothes as well as traces of oil and a blue bucket and containers believed to be from the sunken ferry KM Sinar Bangun.

It said bad weather continues to hamper the search in a lake that is more than 400 metres (1,300 feet) deep in places.

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Officials said more than half a dozen vessels and 350 people including police, soldiers and fishermen, were involved in the search.

Ferry tragedies are common in Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, with weak enforcement of safety regulations often to blame.