Speedboat carrying 78 people sinks in western Indonesia, leaving nine missing
A speedboat accident in western Indonesia has left at least 11 people dead, with a further nine individuals still missing. The vessel, the Evelyn Calista 01, was carrying 72 passengers and six crew members when it sank on its journey between Tembilahan, a town in the Indragiri Hilir Regency in Riau province, and Tanjung Pinang city in a neighbouring province in the Riau Islands chain.
The search and rescue operation, headed by Pekanbaru Search and Rescue Agency chief Nyoman Sidhakarya, has so far managed to rescue 58 people, many of whom were unconscious after being stranded in the choppy waters for an extended period. The dead and missing individuals are thought to be mostly women and children.
Local news reports showed images of survivors clinging to an overturned boat, attempting to board a fishing vessel filled with other survivors. The majority of those on board the speedboat were travelling home after Eid al-Fitr celebrations with their families.
The sinking of the boat occurred on Thursday afternoon, approximately three hours into its journey towards Tanjung Pinang City, a 200-kilometre trip. The cause of the incident is still under investigation, but some survivors have told authorities that the boat swayed suddenly and capsized after colliding with a large log amid strong winds. Local police chief Norhayat, who goes by one name, is leading the probe into the accident.
Since Thursday night, two tugboats and two inflatable boats have been involved in the search for the missing people, battling difficult conditions and high waves in the darkness. Norhayat also reported that a tugboat towed the capsized vessel to a port last night to facilitate the search efforts, reports CNA.
Unfortunately, accidents of this nature are not uncommon in Indonesia, an archipelago comprising over 17,000 islands where ferries are a widely used means of transport. Safety regulations in the country can often be inadequate, leading to tragedy.
In 2018, a ferry carrying around 200 people sank in a deep volcanic crater lake in North Sumatra province, resulting in the deaths of 167 individuals. Another devastating incident occurred in February 1999 when an overcrowded passenger ship sank with 332 people on board, leaving only 20 survivors in one of the nation’s worst-ever recorded maritime disasters.
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