Indonesian ferry survivors found alive after 9 days at sea

By
January 8, 2007 13:19

The Senopati Nusantara car ferry had 628 people on board when it sunk late on Dec. 29 in the Java Sea after being pounded by heavy waves.

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Indonesian ferry survivors found alive after 9 days at sea

indonesian ferry 88. (photo credit: AP)

Fourteen people on board a ferry that sank in Indonesia were picked up by a passing cargo ship after spending nine days on a life raft, a rescue official said Monday. A 15th person died soon after being rescued by the ship late Sunday, said Ketut Purwa, head of the search and rescue agency on Bali island. The Senopati Nusantara car ferry had 628 people on board when it sunk late on Dec. 29 in the Java Sea after being pounded by heavy waves for several hours on a voyage from the Indonesian section of Borneo island to Java. Some 245 people have since been found alive. Only 13 corpses have been recovered, though a navy spokesman said Monday that "hundreds" of bodies were likely trapped inside the lower decks of the sunken ferry. Those rescued on Sunday had drifted almost 600 kilometers (372 miles) before being picked up, said Purwa, who spoke to the captain of the cargo ship by radio. Three bodies were recovered just north of Bali on Monday, he said. The 14 survivors arrived at the port city of Makassar on Sulawesi island where they were awaited by dozens of emergency vehicles, Purwa said. The Senopati Nusantara was a "roll-on roll-off" car ferry built in 1990 in Japan. A government transport investigator said last week she suspected waves entered the car deck over the door and became trapped, adding to vessel's weight and making it unstable. Sea accidents are common in Indonesia, which has more than 17,000 islands. Like in other developing countries, overcrowding is common and maritime safety standards are often poorly enforced. The country has been wracked in recent weeks by seasonal storms that have triggered deadly landslides, flooding and at least six maritime accidents in different parts of the sprawling archipelago. A jetliner with 102 people on board also disappeared in heavy winds and is still missing. The country's worst sea disaster in recent history occurred in 2000, when almost 500 people died after a ferry carrying Christians fleeing religious violence in the eastern Maluku islands capsized.


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