At least 15 dead in Indonesia ferry accident - GulfToday

At least 15 dead in Indonesia ferry accident

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Rescuers operate rubber boats during a search and rescue operation for missing passengers from Monday's ferry accident at Lake Toba, Indonesia. File photo/ Reuters

At least 15 people have died after a passenger ferry sank off the Indonesian island of Java, police said on Tuesday, the latest maritime accident to hit the archipelago nation.

The overloaded boat was carrying around 50 people when it overturned on Monday in rough seas near Madura island, East Java Police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera said.

Search and rescue teams found 13 bodies on Tuesday morning, bringing the total number of dead to 15, with 31 survivors.

Rescuers are searching for at least three people officially listed as still missing. But local reports have suggested that there could be more victims not on the official manifest.

“It's suspected that the boat was overloaded,” Mangera said in a statement.

“The boat was hit by a large wave, overturned and sank.”

The 10-metre (32 foot) long traditional vessel was found by fishermen shortly after it was swamped, he added.

Marine accidents are common in Indonesia, an archipelago nation of more than 17,000 islands, where many use ferries and other boats to travel despite poor safety standards.

More than 160 people died when a passenger ferry sunk into the depths of one of the world's deepest lakes on Sumatra island last year.

More than 300 people are estimated to have drowned in 2009 when a ferry sank between the islands of Sulawesi and Borneo.

Agence France-Presse