JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia says nearly 19,000 square meters (204,000 square feet) of coral reef was damaged by a foreign cruise ship that ran aground in the pristine waters of Raja Ampat in West Papua province earlier this month.
The extent of the damage, announced by the deputy maritime affairs minister this week following a survey of the affected strait, was far worse than initially thought. Indonesia's Foreign Ministry on Thursday said the government will be "very firm" in demanding compensation.
Arif Havas Oegroseno, the deputy minister at the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs, said the joint assessment by a national survey team and the tour company's insurers found nearly 13,300 square meters (143,160 square feet) suffered damage that was fatal to the coral.
He said another 5,600 square meters (60,280 square feet) sustained lesser damage from shock waves of sand and broken coral sent out by the ship's maneuvers but has a 50 percent chance of dying.
The 4,200-ton cruise ship M.V. Caledonian Sky, which was chartered by British tour company Noble Caledonia, ran aground in the Dampier strait on March 4.
Indonesia's senior minister for maritime affairs, Luhut Pandjaitan, last week summoned British Ambassador Moazzam Malik to discuss the damage. The ministry has described the reefs as being irreparably damaged.
Officials are incensed the ship's captain quickly sailed on to Bitung in North Sulawesi province and then the Philippines without waiting for an assessment of the damage.
"The people of Indonesia and the people of Papua have yet to hear Captain Keith Michael Taylor state an apology or remorse for the damage done by his act," said Havas. "The guardians of Raja Ampat, the people of Papua, are anxious to hear what British Captain Taylor has to say."
London-based Noble Caledonia has acknowledged responsibility for the damage and said it is working toward "a fair and realistic settlement."
Officials from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry are working on an estimate of economic losses that will be used in the settlement negotiations.