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Monday, January 02, 2017

Indonesian Ferry Fire: Scores Killed And Injured In Thousand Islands

Faulty wiring cited as cause of blaze  

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
By Jewel Topsfield
01/02/2017

JAKARTA -

Twenty-three people have been killed and at least 17 have been injured after a fire on board a ferry on the way to one of Indonesia's Thousand Islands, a popular tourist getaway for Jakartans, on New Year's Day.


The Zahro Express, which was heading to Tidung Island, caught on fire at 9.42am on January 1 after leaving Muara Angke Port in North Jakarta.

Thousand Islands police spokesman Ferry Budiharso said the number of casualties was at 23. He said three people died at Atma Jaya hospital and another 20 bodies were found on the boat. The boat manifest listed only 100 passengers and many more than that had already been rescued. It did not name any foreigners 


All of the survivors thus far had been Indonesian.

"We suspect the boat was carrying more than the manifest," Mr Ferry said.

"The 20 bodies are now at the police hospital and the disaster victim identification team is processing the bodies. The bodies were burnt, we can't even tell if they were female or male, let alone their identities."




Aldi Munaldi, who was taking his family to Tidung island for a holiday, told television program Liputan 6 that the incident happened 20 minutes after the ferry left port.

"[The fire] started in the engine room in the back. Suddenly there was black smoke. We couldn't breathe."

He said people, some of whom were wearing life jackets, started panicking and jumping overboard: "People screamed 'jump, jump'."

Mr Aldi, whose mother suffered burns, said the ferry later exploded.




"My one year old is safe; I carried my child," he said.

"We wanted to go for a holiday, but it turned out like this. We were drifting for 20 minutes at sea before … boats came and helped."

Jakarta search and rescue spokesman Ramli Prasetio said the number of passengers on board the Zahro Express had been tallied at 247 thus far, but given the boat manifest was incomplete it is not known if more people are missing.




Of the 247, 192 passengers had returned home and 32 were in three different hospitals, with injuries ranging from mild to serious.

"Twenty body bags containing burned body parts are now at the police hospital to be identified," Mr Ramli said.

The Thousand Islands are a chain of islands off the north of Jakarta's coast, which are popular with tourists and Indonesians eager to escape the city.

The search was called off on Sunday night and will resume on Monday morning. 




The Zahro Express had a maximum capacity of 280 passengers, according to Tonny Budiono, the director general for sea transportation from the Ministry of Transportation.

Ferries in Indonesia have a poor safety record with accidents common across the archipelago.



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