A large ferry with over 270 people on board caught fire on Saturday while traveling to a remote island in northeastern Indonesia, forcing passengers and crew to jump into the sea.
The KM Karya Indah was travelling in a remote part of the Indonesian archipelago, from Ternate in the province of North Maluku towards Sanana on the island of Sulabes, when the fire broke out.
Dramatic footage from Indonesia’s search and rescue agency showed the vessel engulfed in smoke and part of the ship ablaze as passengers in life vests jumped from the deck into lifeboats.
“There were 275 people on board, 274 had been evacuated safely,” Muhammad Arafah, the head of the local search and rescue team told Kompas TV on Sunday.
“One person, a 43-year-old man, is still being searched for.” He added that at least 35 passengers were children.
“The search is still continuing. Today’s search and rescue plan (will be conducted) by a joint search and rescue team,” Arafah added.
More than a dozen crew members have been detained and questioned by the local police to determine the cause of the fire.
Initial reports suggest the fire may have started in the engine room, and Indonesian officials said they are investigating the cause of the incident.
Maritime accidents are common in Indonesia due to poor safety standards. But passenger ferries are widely used for transport in the archipelago of some 17,000 islands.
In 2019, 21 people died when an overloaded ferry sank in rough seas off Java’s north coast.
In 2018, around 160 people drowned when an Indonesian ferry sank into the depths of one of the world’s deepest lakes on Sumatra island. And more than 300 people are estimated to have drowned in 2009 when a ferry sank between Sulawesi and Borneo.
Fire on ferry in Indonesia forces passengers and crew into the sea pic.twitter.com/fvD4rH85vD
— The National (@TheNationalNews) May 29, 2021