44 saved in Indonesian ferry sinking; 22 missing

AP News
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Posted: Oct 23, 2010 8:43 AM
44 saved in Indonesian ferry sinking; 22 missing

Fishermen who rushed to the scene of a ferry sinking helped rescuers save 44 passengers, plucking them out of rough seas, an official said Saturday. Nearly two dozen people were missing a day after the ship went down, though no bodies have been found.

The Tersanjung was carrying 66 crew and passengers when it sank Friday about seven miles (10 kilometers) off the cape of Watumanuk on Flores island in East Nusatenggara province.

Rescuers and quick-acting fishermen brought 44 survivors to a hospital for examination, said Riswan, an official of the local Search and Rescue Agency. A search was called off for the night but will resume Sunday, according to Riswan, who uses only one name.

The cause of the accident was still not clear, but Willy Tal, an official at the Port Authority in the town of Maumere on Flores, said the ferry was sailing in heavy waves against a strong current. It was traveling from a town in Flores' north to Maumere.

Eight of the survivors still were hospitalized, Tal said.

Separately, Tal said a small freighter with seven crew was reported to be going down off Flores on Saturday. Three people were apparently missing while the others survived, said Tal, who was still trying to verify the report.

Ships are a main source of transportation in Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands. Accidents are frequent because the boats are often overloaded and poorly maintained.