16 dead, 2 missing in boat sinking

Relatives gathering at the mortuary in Makassar, Indonesia, to identify their loved ones after a boat capsized and sank on June 13, 2018.
Relatives gathering at the mortuary in Makassar, Indonesia, to identify their loved ones after a boat capsized and sank on June 13, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

Two people are still missing after 16 others died when a boat carrying passengers home for the Hari Raya Puasa holiday capsized and sank off Makassar on Wednesday.

Search and rescue operations yesterday came up empty but will continue today, which is Eid al-Fitr (Hari Raya Puasa), according to a senior officer.

"We will continue our operations to find the two missing tomorrow morning," Mr Amiruddin, who heads the South Sulawesi branch of the National Search and Rescue Agency, told The Straits Times yesterday.

The missing are a four-year-old girl and a 28-year-old woman.

The vessel, a traditional wooden longboat known locally as a jolloro, left Paotere port in Makassar on Wednesday afternoon en route to the resort island of Barrang Lompo, 15km north-west of the city, when it hit a big wave and capsized amid bad weather.

Mr Amiruddin's officers also found that the boat was carrying 73 passengers when it sank and not 45 as had been estimated.

This was because those who managed to make it to shore did not report to the police, he said.

The latest information was based on reports from community units, he added.

Among the 16 dead are a one-year-old infant and four children aged four.

Fifteen people have already been buried, Mr Amiruddin said.

Earlier media reports quoted Makassar police chief Aris Bachtiar as saying the boat was overloaded.

In another incident, a speedboat carrying 30 people sank off South Sumatra, killing at least two, according to news agency reports.

Nearly 32 million Indonesians have been returning to their home towns by land, sea and air, as part of the annual Hari Raya exodus, according to data from the Transportation Ministry.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2018, with the headline '16 dead, 2 missing in boat sinking'. Print Edition | Subscribe