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The BBC's Jonathan Head in Jakarta
"Those who escaped the conflict fell victim to a different enemy: Indonesia's dismal safety record at sea"
 real 28k

Sunday, 2 July, 2000, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Survivors found from missing ferry
Relatives at Manado
Relatives of the ferry passengers at Manado harbour
Ten survivors from an Indonesian ferry which sank with heavy loss of life have been rescued at sea after clinging to debris for more than three days.

The ferry, the Cahaya Bahiri, was carrying an estimated 500 passengers - most of whom were fleeing from religious violence on the northern Moluccan islands of Halmahera.


The survivors were found floating in the water - most of them wore lifevests and others held on to debris

Setio Rahardjo

Setio Rahardjo, head of the government's search and rescue agency, said survivors had confirmed that the heavily overcrowded vessel had sunk after taking on water in rough seas and strong winds.

Until now, despite a big air and sea search, rescuers had found no evidence of survivors or of the wreckage.

"Now at least we know what happened to the ship," Mr Rahardjo said.

Officials say the search for survivors continues, though they have warned that the chances of finding more survivors are slim.

Three days in the water

Eleven people, one of them dead, were fished out of the water at 0700 on Sunday (2300 GMT on Saturday) by the Minahasa fishing ship some 120km (75 miles) east of the Sangir Talaud islands according to officials.


The survivors, four women and six men, are reported to be very weak and suffering from dehydration and sunstroke.

Four navy ships, one private vessel and three aeroplanes have been involved in the hunt for the missing boat.

The vessel set sail on its from Tobelo on Halmahera, on Wednesday, and should have reached Manado the following day.

Escaping violence

The wooden-hulled ferry is believed to have started leaking near the end of its journey, about 65km (40 miles) south-east of Siau island.

Nearly 300 refugees are thought to have boarded the ship, along with its 198 passengers and crew. The ferry was built to carry only 200 passengers.

Air and sea search
The air and sea search continues
Most of the refugees were believed to be from the village of Duma, where at least 114 people were killed when Muslim fighters attacked the village earlier this month.

Radio contact with the vessel was lost after its captain radioed that it was taking on water during a violent storm.

Survivor's account

One of the survivors, 18-year-old Orpa Matayani gave a terrifying account of the ship being swamped by huge waves.

Speaking to rescue officials over the radio from the fishing vessel, she said the sea poured into the hold of the Cahaya Bahari just before it sank.

Refugees from Halmahera
Refugees from the fighting arrive in Manado with some belongings
Ms Matayani said she had no idea what happened to the rest of the passengers and that her group survived by clinging to each other.

Many tearful relatives waiting at Manado port, from where the search effort is being co-ordinated, were in shock after hearing confirmation that the ship had sunk.

"Until now we had been praying that the ship was still afloat," said John Girobus, whose mother was on board.

"Now we know it has sunk and only a few people have been rescued. Everyone is very worried about their families."

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See also:

02 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Behind the Moluccan violence
26 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Troubled history of the Moluccas
29 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Moluccan islanders' desperate flight
25 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Civil war looms in Moluccas
20 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Massacre in the Moluccas
20 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Who are the Lashkar Jihad?
21 Mar 99 | SPECIAL REPORT
Ambon's troubled history
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