Two passengers die, five missing after boat sinks in Indonesia

JAKARTA (DPA) - At least two people died and five are still missing after a passenger boat carrying 52 people including the skipper and three crew members sank before dawn on Saturday (June 15) in waters off Alor Island in the lesser Sunda islands region of central Indonesia.

Head of the Maumere search and rescue office in the neighbouring island of Flores, I Putu Sudayana, said they had called off their operation for the day at 7pm without finding the missing passengers and would continue the operation on Sunday morning.

"In accordance to the law, we will conduct the search for the next seven days until further evaluation," Sudayana said.

The boat, the KM Nusa Kenari 02, departed the port of Kalabahi, the main town in Alor district, at 1.30am, and was bound for Pureman village in Northwest Alor district on the other side of the island when it sank in the waters off Tanjung Margeta.

"It is unclear what caused the boat to sink, but it sank at about 200m from the coastline so most passengers including the skipper and the crew were able to swim ashore to safety," Sudayana said.

The skipper - who according to Sudayana at first was not even aware about the real number of passengers on his boat and did not report to the port master that his boat was departing with passengers - reported the accident to the police when he made it to shore.