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Archive for Monday, January 1, 2007

Hundreds still missing after ferry accident

January 1, 2007

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— Rescue boats scoured the sea Sunday where an Indonesian ferry sank during a violent storm, picking up scores of exhausted survivors from choppy waters, but at least 400 more remained missing, officials and media reports said.

Almost two days after the ship went down in the Java Sea, helicopters dropped food and water to a group of around 30 survivors drifting in a life raft after heavy waves prevented rescuers from approaching them, Transport Minister Hatta Radjasa said.

"Pictures from the air showed they were all alive and waving for help," he said

Survivors told harrowing stories of the minutes before the Senopati Nusantara capsized around midnight Friday, as well as the struggle to stay alive in the hours that followed.

By late Sunday, authorities had found 177 survivors, either clinging to wood, packed into life rafts or on beaches after swimming ashore, Antara quoted transport department official Soeharto as saying.

Radjasa said at least 157 survivors had been found. It was not immediately possible to explain the discrepancy, though Indonesian government agencies and officials often give differing death tolls during disasters due to poor communication and coordination.

Ships also recovered at least 66 bodies, said Soeharto. The ferry is believed to have had 638 people on board, Radjasa said earlier.

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