17 Dead in Indonesian Passenger Boat Accident
At least 17 people are dead and at least one remains missing after a crowded motorboat capsized off the coast of Giliyang Island, East Java, Indonesia. The victims include four children.
Sumenep provincial search and rescue chief Al-Amrat (his sole name) told media that the 33-foot boat was under way between Raas Island and Madura Island, about 30 nm to the west. It had 57 people on board, and it capsized after it was hit by a large wave. Survivors told the Times of Indonesia that several fishing boats came to their aid and rescued passengers from the water.
39 survivors have been brought to a local health center for treatment, and the bodies of the deceased have been returned to shore for identification.
Officials have given conflicting counts of the number of missing passengers, with spokesmen reporting either one or four persons, but Sumenep police chief Muslimin told Indonesian outlet Kompas that the search continues. Indonesia's maritime safety agency, Basarnas, is working with military units, local police and the disaster relief agency BPBD to carry out the SAR mission.
Passenger vessels are an essential means of transportation in the Indonesian archipelago, and accidents with large numbers of casualties are not uncommon. The same problem exists in many developing nations, and at a meeting earlier this month, IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) considered new nonbinding measures to address domestic ferry safety. These measures would include a re-evaluation of the existing IMO guidelines on the safe operation of coastal and inter-island passenger ships on domestic voyages; collecting and analyzing best practices for ferry operation; developing model regulations for domestic ferry safety; helping member states to incorporate model regulations into domestic law; and developing online training materials, according to a summary provided by ABS.