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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 12:18 GMT
Indonesia ferry fire claims lives
Ferry on fire - 22/2/07
Indonesia has experienced several transport accidents recently
At least 15 people, including two children, have died after fire broke out on a ferry shortly after it set sail from Indonesia's capital, Jakarta.

The Levina I, with more than 200 people on board, was 80km (50 miles) from shore en route to Bangka island when the fire broke out.

Five navy ships and two aircraft were despatched to evacuate survivors.

The accident is the latest in a string of deadly incidents that have cast doubt over Indonesia's safety record.

TV pictures taken from the air showed thick black smoke billowing from the ship.

Transport Minister Hatta Rajasa told el-Shinta radio that 15 bodies had been recovered and that at least 275 people had been rescued.

Other officials said passengers and crew were taken off the burning vessel by another ferry, while others were pulled out of the water.

One survivor, Ebun, told the AP news agency that he had managed to get hold of a lifejacket.

"The fire started on the lowest level and got bigger and bigger," he said.

"Many people, including me, jumped into the water. Someone came and pulled me onto another ship."

RECENT INDONESIAN DISASTERS
map
Ferry fire 22 Feb 2007: At least seven die as Bangka ferry catches fire
Train crash 16 Jan 2007: At least five die as train falls from bridge in Java
Landslide 12 Jan 2007: Landslide kills at least 16 on island of Sangihe
Plane crash 1 Jan 2007: Passenger plane carrying 102 people crashes in sea west of Sulawesi island
Ferry sinks 30 Dec 2006: More than 350 lost as ferry sinks between Borneo and Java
Stampede 20 Dec 2006: 10 killed, dozens injured in a stampede at Java pop concert
Earthquake 18 Dec 2006: Seven killed, about 100 injured in a quake in Sumatra

Yas Rijal, 33, was with his wife and son on the upper deck when the fire broke out.

"Suddenly flames burst from the lower deck. The crew ordered us to put on yellow life vests and we jumped," he told AP.

Survivors were taken to port, where they were either ferried to hospital or treated by emergency teams on the quayside.

It was not clear how many others were still unaccounted for, in part because there were conflicting reports about the numbers of people who had been on the ferry.

"We are still looking for (anyone unaccounted for) by combing through the waters. They may have jumped into the sea because the ferry was hot due to the fire," Lieutenant-Colonel Hendra Pakan of Indonesia's navy told Reuters news agency.

The accident was the most deadly since a passenger ferry carrying around 600 people capsized in late December off Java island, leaving more than half the passengers feared dead.

Indonesia, an archipelago of thousands of islands, relies on ferries to provide a cheap and extensive passenger network.

But many vessels are badly maintained, and there have been a number of recent accidents.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has formed a team to look into transport safety.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Smoke pouring from the blazing ferry



SEE ALSO
Indonesia's public transport perils
18 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Indonesia
23 Jan 07 |  Country profiles

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