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Last Updated: Friday, 19 October 2007, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Ferry sinks off Indonesian island
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A passenger ferry has capsized off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, leaving at least 29 people dead, officials say.

The Acita III went down on Thursday night about 500m (0.31 miles) off the south-eastern city of Baubau.

Dozens were rescued after local people heard screams and went to help, officials said. Rescue teams are searching the area for more survivors.

The cause of the accident has not been confirmed, but local officials said the ferry had been seriously overcrowded.

The head of the local rescue team said the ferry had tipped over as it was coming into shore, when scores of passengers suddenly climbed onto the upper deck to get mobile phone signals.

Roki Kendari said the wooden boat should not have been carrying more than 30 people but according to the head of the Indonesian Red Cross, Laode Hamdansyah, up to 200 may have been on board.

Rescue teams have been using speedboats to search for more survivors, while the injured have been taken to a nearby hospital in south-east Sulawesi.

The BBC's Rebecca Henschke in Jakarta says it is the peak holiday season in Indonesia, with millions of people travelling across the archipelago to celebrate the local Islamic festival of Liburan.

Ferries are the main cheap source of transport in a country of 17,000 islands, but overcrowding and poorly enforced safety standards mean accidents are common, our correspondent says.

More than 40 people died when a fire broke out aboard a ferry travelling from Jakarta in February, and at least 400 people were killed when a ferry sank in a storm off Java in December.

SEE ALSO
Dozens missing on Indonesia ship
11 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Hunt for Indonesia ferry missing
26 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Search for Jakarta ferry victims
23 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia's public transport perils
18 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Indonesia
18 Oct 06 |  Country profiles

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