Search teams are looking for one missing person after rescuing all other passengers from a large ferry that caught fire in Indonesia, an official said Sunday.
The KM Karya Indah was heading to Sanana, a remote port in the northeast of the Indonesian archipelago when it was engulfed in flames.
Shortly after departing, the ferry caught fire, forcing passengers and crew to jump into the sea to save themselves. There are no reported casualties.
“There were 275 people on board, 274 had been evacuated safely,” Muhammad Arafah, the head of the local search and rescue team told Kompas TV Sunday. “One person, a 43-year-old man, is still being searched for.” He added that at least 35 passengers were children.
Dozens of rescuers are still scouring the area for the missing person.
Images shared by the search and rescue agency showed the large ferryboat enveloped in thick, dark smoke while passengers in life jackets were rescued by rafts.
More than a dozen crew members have been detained and questioned by the local police to determine the cause of the fire.
Maritime accidents are common in Indonesia due to poor safety standards. But passenger ferries are widely used for transport in the archipelago of some 17,000 islands.
In 2019, 21 people died when an overloaded ferry sank in rough seas off Java’s north coast.
In 2018, around 160 people drowned when an Indonesian ferry sank into the depths of one of the world’s deepest lakes on Sumatra island. And more than 300 people are estimated to have drowned in 2009 when a ferry sank between Sulawesi and Borneo.
A South Korean court on Monday awarded compensation to some survivors of the Sewol ferry sinking, almost five years after the accident killed more than 300 people in one of the country’s deadliest maritime disasters.
The 6,825-tonne Sewol was carrying 476 people — most of them high-school students on a school trip — when it capsized off the southern coast in April 2014.
Almost all the victims were children, many of whom obeyed orders to stay in their cabins as the vessel slowly sank, and intense public fury targeted the then president Park Geun-hye after it emerged she was uncontactable for several hours as the disaster unfolded.
The disaster was blamed on a deadly combination of cargo overloading, an illegal redesign and poor helmsmanship by what the court described as an “incompetent” crew.
Nearly 80 people, including 20 survivors and dozens of relatives of survivors, later sought compensation from the government and the ship’s operator for negligence and failure to properly evacuate the passengers.
The Suwon District Court south of Seoul ordered the government and the ship’s operator, Cheonghaejin Marine, to pay each survivor 80 million won ($71,000), while relatives received sums ranging from two to 32 million won.
“The survivors experienced considerable difficulty escaping the ship after getting little or no guidance from anyone and suffered so much fear and anxiety while trapped inside,” the court said in a statement.
“The survivors and their families also suffer from various symptoms including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety,” it said.
The court held the coastguard and the ship’s operator responsible for negligence, including the failure by both to tell passengers to leave the ship, and Cheonghaejin’s failure to properly check the vessel before departure.
The same court has previously awarded compensation to the families of the dead.
At his trial, the Sewol’s captain Lee Joon-Seok — one of the first people to leave the sinking ship, while hundreds of passengers were trapped inside — was sentenced to life in prison for negligence and murder.
Other crew members were jailed for terms ranging from 18 months to 12 years.
The death toll in a ferry capsized in Lake Victoria climbed to 126 on Friday, as Tanzanian rescue workers pressed on with the search to find scores more people feared drowned.
The MV Nyerere may have been carrying as many as 200 passengers — double the ferry’s capacity — when it capsized close to the pier on Ukara Island on Thursday, according to reports on state media.
Witnesses reached by AFP said the ferry sank when passengers rushed to one side to disembark as it approached the dock.
The death toll rose to 126 by mid-afternoon Friday, according to Tanzania’s transport minister.
“We are sad to report there are 126 dead,” Isack Kamwele told state television, adding that a further update would be provided at 6 pm local time (1500 GMT).
Mwanza governor John Mongella had earlier said the number of survivors was 40, but it was unclear whether any new survivors had been found since rescue operations resumed with police and army divers on Friday morning.
“Operations are continuing,” he said.
Rescue operations were suspended overnight Thursday and hopes are fading that more survivors might still be found.
State television cited witnesses reporting that more than 200 people had boarded the ferry at Bugolora, a town on the larger Ukerewe Island, where it was a market day when locals said the vessel was usually packed with people and goods.
“I have not heard from either my father or my younger brother who were on the ferry. They had gone to the market in Bugolora to buy a school uniform and other supplies for the new school term,” said Domina Maua, who was among those seeking information about loved ones.
Davita Ngenda, an elderly woman in Ukara, had already received bad news.
“My son is among the bodies recovered,” she said, weeping. “He had gone with his wife but she has not been found yet. My God, what did I do to deserve this?”
Sebastian John, a teacher, said such tragedies had become part of life for those living on the lake.
“Since my birth, people have gone to their deaths on this lake, but what are we to do? We did not choose to be born here, we have nowhere to go,” he said.
Overloading and ‘negligence’
It remains unclear how many people are still missing.
Tanzania’s Electrical, Mechanical and Services Agency, which is responsible for ferry services, said it was unknown how many passengers were aboard the MV Nyerere.
The aging ferry, whose hull and propellers were all that remained visible after it overturned, was also carrying cargo, including sacks of maize, bananas, and cement, when it capsized around 50 meters (55 yards) from Ukara dock.
The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, but overloading is frequently to blame for such incidents.
President John Magufuli was “deeply saddened” by the disaster and called on Tanzanians to “stay calm during these difficult times,” according to spokesman Gerson Msigwa.
The country’s opposition, however, accused the government of “negligence”.
“We have often raised concerns about the poor condition of this ferry, but the government turned a deaf ear. We have repeatedly denounced this negligence,” said John Mnyika, deputy secretary general of Chadema, the main opposition party.
Mnyika said overloading was “another failure of the authorities” and criticised “inadequate relief efforts as well as delays” in the rescue operation.
With a surface area of 70,000 square kilometers (27,000 square miles), oval-shaped Lake Victoria is roughly the size of Ireland and is shared by Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya.
Capsizes are not uncommon in the massive lake, and the number of fatalities is often high due to a shortage of life jackets and the fact that many people in the region cannot swim.
The deadliest such accident in recent decades was in May 1996, when around 800 people died after their ferry sank on the way to Mwanza in Tanzania.
Four people were killed and 11 others were missing Thursday after a ferry with hundreds on board capsized in stormy weather off the Philippines, rescuers said.
Over 200 passengers and crew were plucked to safety after the Mercraft 3 keeled over in heavy seas en route to a remote island, officials said.
“The wind suddenly picked up and the boat was forced to stop when the bow started taking in water. Passengers ran to the side just before it tipped over,” student Donel Mendiola told DZMM radio.
“Some of us swam, but I saw some old people who were apparently already dead,” Mendiola said.
Two men and two women were killed, while the search for those still missing has been suspended for the night, Ron Crisostomo, a civil defence official in Infanta town near Real told AFP.
“It was rainy and the wind was up. It was no longer safe for the rescuers, but they will continue tomorrow,” Crisostomo said.
Janet Balili, a local council member, told ABS-CBN television 11 people remain missing.
The station aired footage of rescuers taking injured survivors to a hospital. Four body bags were also seen being laid out on the floor.
The boat tipped over between the remote island of Polillo and Real town, about 70 kilometres (45 miles) east of Manila, shortly before noon (0400 GMT), the coastguard said.
It said the ferry was carrying 251 passengers and crew when it left the port of Real for Polillo, a 2.5-hour trip.
“We believe the weather was a big factor” in the accident, coastguard spokesman Armand Balilo told a news conference in Manila.
The ferry sailed as Tropical Storm Tembin loomed over the southern Philippines, nearly a thousand kilometres away.
The vessel, which is licensed to carry up to 286 people, was allowed to sail as there were no storm warnings at or around Real or Polillo, Balilo said.
The government had advised Filipinos planning to return to their home provinces for Christmas to do so earlier than usual to avoid heavy weather forecast to hit ahead of the holidays.
Another storm killed more than 40 people in the central Philippines last weekend.
The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, is plagued by poor sea transport, with its badly regulated boats and ships prone to overcrowding and accidents.
The latest incident occurred 30 years after another Philippine ferry, the Dona Paz, collided with an oil tanker in a pre-Christmas accident that claimed more than 4,000 lives in the world’s worst peacetime disaster at sea.
More recently, the Kim Nirvana ferry capsized shortly after departure off the city of Ormoc in the central Philippines in 2015, killing 61 people. The accident was thought to have been due to overcrowding.