Ferry sinks off eastern Indonesia, 100 rescued

AP News
Posted: Dec 21, 2011 6:18 AM
Ferry sinks off eastern Indonesia, 100 rescued

A wooden ferry carrying people home for the Christmas holidays sank Wednesday in stormy weather in eastern Indonesia, officials said. Most of the 100 passengers were rescued, they said.

Four bodies were recovered from waters off the Maluku islands, including those of an 11-year-old boy and a baby, said Nus Sileti, a transportation official. Earlier reports had said at least seven people had died.

He said he did not expect the toll would climb much higher.

The ship sank close to shore after running into bad weather and rescuers were quickly on the scene, pulling survivors from the choppy waters, he said.

Indonesia, a secular nation of 240 million people, is predominantly Muslim. But there are large Christian populations, mostly in the east.

It was the second boat sinking in less than a week. Boats are a popular form of transportation in Indonesia, which has more than 17,000 islands. They are often overcrowded and safety regulations are poorly enforced.

On Saturday, a boat packed with asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and Iran capsized off Java island, hundreds of miles (kilometers) to the west, leaving as many as 200 dead.

Forty-three bloated bodies were pulled from the water on Wednesday.