Pontianak (Indonesia) (AFP)
At least nine people have been killed and dozens more are missing after a series of boats capsized in a storm that hit the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, a local relief agency said on Friday.
The crash happened early Wednesday in waters off the west coast of Kalimantan, where waves of up to five meters (16 feet) overwhelmed a dozen fishing boats and a pair of tugs.
It was first reported by search and rescue authorities on Friday.
Nine people have been confirmed dead and 46 others are still missing, said Yopi Haryadi, chief of the Pontianak relief agency, who added that 81 people aboard the ships had been rescued alive.
The storm inundated nearly 50 land-based villages, destroying homes and other buildings with nearly 15,000 residents affected.
“The 14 boats actually tried to escape the storm but it was too strong and they capsized,” Haryadi told AFP.
“The storm also hit the mainland in West Kalimantan, where villages were inundated by the floods. But so far there are no victims or missing persons on the continent. “
The local search and rescue agency said a military helicopter had been deployed to help search for survivors, but the operation was hampered by inclement weather.
“I hope the weather today will be good so that we can find more victims,” said Eryk Subarianto, head of emergency operations at the Pontianak relief agency.
Shipping accidents are common in Indonesia, a Southeast Asian archipelago of more than 17,000 islands where many use ferries and other boats to travel despite poor safety standards.
Last month, a passenger ferry sank off the holiday island of Bali in rough seas, killing 10 people and another still missing.
In 2018, around 160 people drowned when a ferry sank in 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