At least 20 dead, 39 res­cued in In­done­sian boat cap­siz­ing

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

A speed­boat car­ry­ing In­done­sian work­ers home from Malaysia cap­sized in stormy weather on Wed­nes­day, and po­lice said at least 20 peo­ple were killed.

About 90 peo­ple were on the boat, which cap­sized off the In­done­sian is­land of Batam at about 5 a.m., said the is­land’s po­lice chief, Sam­budi Gus­dian. He said searchers had res­cued 39 peo­ple, and a child un­der the age of 5 was among the bod­ies taken to a local hos­pi­tal.

Po­lice sus­pect the trip was il­le­gal and the work­ers were un­doc­u­mented be­cause of the high fares that pas­sen­gers said they paid.

Gus­dian said an In­done­sian woman be­lieved to be re­spon­si­ble for the voy­age was ar­rested as she tried to leave Batam for nearby Sin­ga­pore.

Haryanto, a 51-year-old sur­vivor, said the boat cap­sized in heavy rain and high waves about two hours af­ter it left Jo­hor Bahru in Malaysia. He also said the boat was over­crowded.

“It was so crowded, some of us could not sit,” said Haryanto, who was saved by fish­er­men af­ter swim­ming for about two hours. Like many In­done­sians, he goes by one name.

A po­lice he­li­copter and more than a dozen boats were in­volved in the res­cue ef­fort.

Speed­boats and fer­ries are a com­mon form of trans­port in In­done­sia, a sprawl­ing ar­chi­pel­ago. Sink­ings are com­mon due to poorly en­forced safety reg­u­la­tions.

One of the worst ferry sink­ings in re­cent years oc­curred off Su­lawesi is­land in 2009, killing more than 330 peo­ple.

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