Ternate (Indonesia) (AFP)
Search teams are looking for a missing person after rescuing all other passengers from a large ferry that caught fire in Indonesia, an official said on Sunday.
KM Karya Indah was heading towards Sanana, a remote port in the northeast of the Indonesian archipelago when it was engulfed in flames.
Shortly after leaving, 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 were safely evacuated,” Muhammad Arafah, head of the local search and rescue team, told Kompas TV on Sunday. “One person, a 43-year-old man, is still wanted. He added that at least 35 passengers were children.
Dozens of rescuers are still scouring the area in search of the missing person.
Images shared by the search and rescue agency showed the large ferryboat shrouded in thick black smoke as passengers in life jackets were rescued by rafts.
More than a dozen crew members were arrested and questioned by local police to determine the cause of the fire.
Shipping accidents are common in Indonesia due to poor safety standards. But passenger ferries are widely used for transportation in the archipelago of some 17,000 islands.
In 2019, 21 people died when an overloaded ferry sank in rough seas off the north Java coast.
In 2018, around 160 people drowned when an Indonesian ferry sank in the depths of one of the world’s deepest lakes on the island of Sumatra. And it is estimated that more than 300 people drowned in 2009 when a ferry sank between Sulawesi and Borneo.
© 2021 AFP