At least 24 dead after ferry carrying 139 sinks in central Indonesia
The KM Lestari Maju was about to sink off amid bad weather when its captain purposefully grounded it in a shallow area to save lives
At least 24 people were killed and 74 others survived after a passenger ferry with 139 people on board went down Tuesday afternoon in central Indonesia, government officials said.
The KM Lestari Maju was about to sink off the southern coast of Sulawesi island amid bad weather when its captain purposefully grounded it in a shallow area to save the lives of those on board, Director General of Sea Transportation Agus Purnomo told reporters.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said at least 24 passengers, who fell into the sea when the ferry started to sink, drowned.
“Evacuation is still ongoing and there are still some passengers on the capsized ferry. Other ships are afraid to approach because of high waves,” Sutopo said.
The incident occurred about 300 metres (1,000 feet) off the Pabadilang coast in South Sulawesi province at 2.30pm.
Maritime accidents occur with some frequency in Indonesia, mostly due to safety problems such as overcapacity and bad maintenance of ships and boats.
Last month, passenger boat Sinar Bangun, carrying as many as 188 people, sank in Lake Toba in the northern part of Sumatra island with only 21 survivors. Only three bodies were found and rest remained unaccounted for.
The wreckage was later found at a depth of 450 metres (1,500 feet), but authorities did not attempt to lift it for lack of salvaging technology, and the search for victims ended earlier this week.