Indonesia searches for 58 missing from sunken boat

AP News
Posted: Jun 19, 2012 3:14 AM
Indonesia searches for 58 missing from sunken boat

A rescue official said Tuesday that at least 58 people were missing from a boat that capsized over the weekend in eastern Indonesia _ a far higher potential death toll than authorities initially thought.

Earlier authorities said only 14 people were missing in Sunday's sinking. Dony Haryanto of the local search and rescue agency said the updated number was based on reports from relatives of the passengers and crew.

The Putri Ayu boat was traveling from Maluku's provincial capital, Ambon, to the nearby island of Buru when it capsized after being battered by a 3-meter-high (10-foot-high) wave. Twelve people were rescued Sunday, but Haryanto said rescuers have found nothing since then, despite good weather and extra ships and fishing boats joining the search Tuesday.

The overloaded wooden boat was carrying at least 70 people, but was licensed to carry just 40 and listed only 27 on its manifest. Manifests are generally unreliable in Indonesia because tickets are sold onboard to passengers who are never registered.

Dozens of families and relatives were waiting for good news of their loved ones in Ambon's Slamet Riadi port, Haryanto said.

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