At least 15 killed, 19 missing in Indonesia ferry sinking

Indonesian authorities were searching for missing passengers on Monday after a ferry sank off Sulawesi island, killing at least 15, the national search and rescue agency said.

Of 40 passengers on board, 19 were still missing, while six survived, the agency said in a statement. The cause of the sinking, which occurred at about midnight, was still unclear.

The vessel was ferrying people across a bay in Muna island, about 200 km (124 miles) south of Kendari, the capital of Southeast Sulawesi province.

“We’d like to report a boat accident that capsized in Central Mawasangka Bay, in the Central Buton area, with a total of 40 passengers and 15 dead, six survivors, and 19 still missing. We received the report on July 24, 2023, at 2:50 Eastern Indonesia Time,” said Muhammad Arafah, Chief of Kendari Search and Rescue Agency.

Ferries are a common mode of transport in Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, and accidents are common as lax safety standards often allow vessels to be overloaded without adequate life-saving equipment.