Thursday, July 19, 2018
Close  
  • share this

Indonesia police detain captain in ferry disaster – authorities

/ 01:54 PM June 21, 2018

An Indonesia search and rescue team searches for a ferry, which sank on Monday, June 18, 2018, in Lake Toba, North Sumatra, Indonesia, on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Rescuers searching for dozens of people missing after a ferry sank on Indonesia’s Lake Toba have found bags, jackets, an ID card, and other items in the waters but no new survivors, casting a tragic pall over holidays marking the end of the Muslim holy month. (AP Photo)

Simalungun, Indonesia – The captain of an overloaded Indonesian ferry that sank into the depths of a volcanic lake has been detained by police for questioning over the deadly disaster, authorities said on Thursday.

Identified as Tua Sagala, the captain was among just 18 people rescued after the vessel capsized and sank Monday afternoon on Sumatra’s Lake Toba, a popular tourist destination.

Four passengers were previously confirmed dead but the search-and-rescue agency on Thursday revised that figure down to three.

ADVERTISEMENT

Official estimates list 193 people missing as of Thursday morning, raising fears that the incident could become one of Indonesia’s deadliest ferry disasters.

The traditional wooden boat is believed to have been operating illegally with no manifest or passenger tickets.

Official estimates of the number of passengers are based on reports from families whose missing relatives may have been on the doomed vessel but their accounts are difficult to verify.

If confirmed, the boat – which was also carrying dozens of motorcycles – may have been jammed with four or five times the number of passengers it was built to hold.

The ship’s captain is also the owner of the vessel, police said.

“The captain of the boat is now with the police,” national police spokesman Yusri Yunus told AFP Thursday.

“But we haven’t questioned him yet because he is still traumatized,” the police spokesman added.

Top government officials, including the transport minister and national police chief, were expected to arrive at the scene later Thursday.

ADVERTISEMENT

Hundreds of grief-stricken people have been waiting for days by the shore hoping for news on the fate of missing loved ones.

It was not clear if any foreigners were on board.

Survivor accounts said the boat began shaking as it struggled to navigate strong winds and high waves about halfway into the 40-minute trip from an island in the middle of the lake to shore.

The rescue operation has now turned into recovering bodies, including those that may still be trapped inside the sunken boat.

Authorities have deployed divers and underwater vehicles, along with about 400 personnel, to search one of the world’s deepest lakes.

Toba is some 500 meters (1,640 feet) deep in parts and covers an area of about 1,145 square kilometers (440 square miles)

The lake, popular with international and domestic tourists, fills the crater of a super volcano that exploded in a massive eruption tens of thousands of years ago.

The disaster came just days after more than a dozen people were killed in an unrelated ferry accident in the Southeast Asian archipelago nation, where many people depend on boats to get around.

Traditional vessels – like the one in the Lake Toba disaster – are often packed beyond capacity.

They are rarely equipped with enough life preservers, and their condition can be dire.  /kga

Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Accident, disaster, ferry, Indonesia, lake, Lake Toba, Transport
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2018 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.