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Last Updated: Monday, 26 February 2007, 07:52 GMT
Hunt for Indonesia ferry missing
Indonesian journalists mourn the death of a colleague after the ferry sinking in Tanjung Priok port, Jakarta, on 25 February 2007
Indonesian journalists are mourning the death of their colleague
Dozens of people are still feared missing after a fire broke out on board an Indonesian ferry four days ago.

A hunt is also under way for three people who were inspecting the burnt-out remains of the ship on Sunday when it unexpectedly capsized.

At least 42 people died after the Levina I caught fire as it travelled between Jakarta and Bangka island off Sumatra last Thursday.

Some 250 passengers are thought to have survived the blaze.

The ferry's manifest said 300 people were on board, but officials believe the figure could have been higher as Indonesian ferries often carry more passengers than officially listed.

People on the ferry panicked and raced down to deck two where they crowded into a window at the end of the deck to get out to the side of the ship
Mardianto
Radio reporter

The government has already revoked the ferry operator's permit for failing to declare the full number of passengers on the manifest.

Navy spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Hendra Pakan said the number of missing had been put at up to 100 based on reports from relatives of those believed to have been on board.

At least five vessels are continuing to search for survivors and bodies in the Java Sea close to where the ferry caught fire, officials say.

Police investigation

Meanwhile, divers and boats are continuing to search waters just off Jakarta's Tanjung Priok port, where the charred vessel went down a day after being towed there for an official examination.

The ship was anchored but reportedly already listing when a group of around 16 investigators and journalists went on board on Sunday.

RECENT INDONESIAN DISASTERS
Tug towing Levina I ferry
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

A radio reporter, Mardianto, told the Jakarta Post that the journalists had been "driven by curiosity", even though some officials had warned it would not be safe.

Few had reportedly taken up the offer of life jackets.

Mardianto said the journalists were interviewing a police official on one deck, when an investigators warned the boat was listing dangerously and they were ordered to evacuate.

"People on the ferry panicked and raced down to deck two where they crowded into a window at the end of the deck to get out to the side of the ship," Mardianto said.

He said he managed to get out of the ferry and swim to the nearest lifeboat.

An Indonesian television cameraman died, and two investigators and a reporter are still missing.

Setyo Rahardjo, chair of the National Transport Safety Commission, said there would be a police investigation into what happened.

"We did not think about the possibility of the ship sinking because it was just fine when it was towed 50 miles in the sea," he told Reuters news agency.

Transport perils

The Levina I ferry was 80km (50 miles) from Tanjung Priok when the fire broke out.

Many of the survivors from the fire hurled themselves off the blazing vessel into the sea, to escape the flames.

map

Thursday's fire was the latest in a string of deadly transport incidents in Indonesia, leading to concern over its safety record.

In late December, a passenger ferry carrying around 600 people capsized off Java island, killing more than half of the passengers.

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 recently formed a team to look into transport safety.




SEE ALSO
Search for Jakarta ferry victims
23 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia's public transport perils
18 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Indonesia
23 Jan 07 |  Country profiles

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