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17 still missing after Indonesia boat fire kills 23

Rescuers search for victims from the wreckage of a ferry that caught fire off the coast of Jakarta after it was docked at Muara Angke Port in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. The vessel was carrying more than 230 people from the port to Tidung, a resort island in the Kepulauan Seribu chain, when it caught fire, officials said.   | Photo Credit: AP

Search resumed on Monday for the 17 people who were reported missing after a ferry fire off the coast of Indonesia’s capital that left at least 23 dead, officials said.

The victims died on Sunday when the vessel, Zahro Express, carrying more than 260 people from a port near Jakarta to Tidung, a resort island in the Kepulauan Seribu chain, caught fire, officials said.

Most of the passengers were Indonesians celebrating the New Year holiday, according to local media reports.

Dito, an official from the Jakarta Search and Rescue Agency, said at least five ships and a number of speedboats and rubber boats were deployed in the search.

Of the 224 passengers who were rescued, 32 were being treated at three hospitals, said Dito.

Seply Madreta, an official from the Jakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency, said the fire gutted about half the vessel, and that 23 bodies had been recovered.

Twenty bodies that were found inside the vessel were burned beyond recognition and were transferred to a police hospital for identification, said Col Umar Shahab of the Jakarta police health department.

Witnesses told MetroTV that the fire broke out about 15 minutes after the ferry left the port of Muara Angke.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear. Some passengers told local media that they first saw smoke coming from the ferry’s engine.

The director for sea transportation, Tonny Budiono, said the initial suspicion was that the fire was “most probably caused by a short circuit in the engine room.”

He told a news conference the short circuit might have led to the fuel tank exploding.

Despite the high number of people who were rescued, the ferry’s manifest showed that only 100 were registered as passengers, along with six crewmen, said Denny Wahyu Haryanto, head of the Jakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency. He said the vessel’s captain was under police investigation over the incident.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 1:55:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/17-still-missing-after-Indonesia-boat-fire-kills-23/article16977134.ece

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