Boat sinks in Indonesia; 1 dead, dozens missing

AP News
Posted: Apr 17, 2013 11:22 PM

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Rescuers battled strong currents and murky water Thursday while searching for dozens of missing workers feared dead after a boat capsized during a river crossing in central Indonesia, killing at least one person.

There were conflicting reports about the exact number of passengers due to the lack of a manifest, but the boat was believed to be carrying up to 68 passengers and crew when it sank Wednesday in the Mahakam River in East Kalimantan on Indonesia's part of Borneo island.

Wahyu Widhi, chief of the East Kalimantan provincial disaster mitigation agency, said 31 passengers were rescued and 33 others were believed still missing. The whereabouts of three more remained unclear because they were not reported missing. He said one woman's body was recovered, but earlier another rescue official at the scene said two women had drowned. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

"We fear those who are still missing were unable to survive," Widhi said, adding the overloaded boat and panicked passengers worsened the situation.

More than a dozen boats were involved in the search effort.

Boat accidents are common in Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago consisting of some 17,000 islands. Vessels are often overcrowded and in poor condition.