13 dead as boat capsizes in Sumatra

Rescuers recovering a body from the Musi River in Palembang, Sumatra, after a boat carrying 55 people hit a large wave and sank amid bad weather on Wednesday.
Rescuers recovering a body from the Musi River in Palembang, Sumatra, after a boat carrying 55 people hit a large wave and sank amid bad weather on Wednesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PALEMBANG (Sumatra) • At least 13 people died after a passenger boat capsized off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, two days after another ferry accident in the archipelago killed at least nine, police said yesterday.

The boat was carrying 55 people along the Musi River when it hit a large wave and sank amid bad weather on Wednesday, South Sumatra water police chief Robinson Siregar said.

He said the police were still searching for the captain, who reportedly survived but went missing. "His assistant has been detained for questioning to find out, for example, whether or not the boat was seaworthy or there was negligence by the crew," Mr Siregar said.

Bodies were found along the riverbank, with one discovered by locals an hour's walk from the accident site.

It is the latest deadly maritime accident in the vast Indonesian archipelago, which relies heavily on boats to ferry people around its 17,000 islands, but has a patchy safety record.

On New Year's Day, at least nine people died after a passenger boat capsized when travelling from the city of Tarakan to Tanjung Selor on Borneo island.

Last July, eight people drowned in a boat accident on the same route.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2018, with the headline '13 dead as boat capsizes in Sumatra'. Print Edition | Subscribe