Sunday, January 1, 2017

At Least 23 Dead in Fire on Indonesian Ferry

At least 23 people were killed after a fire broke out on a ferry that was carrying more than 200 people to islands north of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on Sunday, officials said.

The fire started aboard the passenger ferry shortly after it left the Muara Angke port, heading to Tidung Island, a tourist destination about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Jakarta, national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said Sunday.

In addition to the dead, more than a dozen people were injured and more than a dozen are missing, officials said.

Seply Madreto, an official from the local Disaster Mitigation Agency, told MetroTV the fire gutted about half of the ship, according to the Associated Press.

A survivor named Ardi, who was traveling with his son, told Reuters news agency, “Thick smoke suddenly emerged, blanketing the cabin. All passengers panicked and ran up to the deck to throw floats into the water. In a split second, the fire becomes bigger coming from where fuel is stored.”

Ardi was one of the survivors taken to a Jakarta hospital for treatment.

Boats are a popular form of transportation in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of more than 250 million people, but overcrowding and poor safety enforcement make accidents common. Indonesia has been plagued by transportation accidents in recent years, from plane and train crashes to ferry sinkings.

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