At least 23 people were killed and 17 others missing after a ferry caught fire on Sunday off the coast of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, officials said.
The vessel was carrying more than 230 people from Jakarta’s port of Muara Angke to Tidung, a resort island in the Kepulauan Seribu chain, when it caught fire, officials said. Most of the passengers were Indonesians celebrating the New Year’s holiday, according to local media reports.
Seply Madreta, an official from the Jakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency, said the fire gutted around half the vessel. He said about 22 injured victims were rushed to hospitals, and 23 bodies had been recovered.
Twenty bodies that were found inside the vessel were burned beyond recognition and were transferred to a police hospital for identification, said Colonel Umar Shahab of the Jakarta police’s health department.
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A search involving around 10 ships was under way to find those who were missing, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said.
Witnesses told MetroTV that the fire broke out about 15 minutes after the ferry left Muara Angke. The cause of the fire was not immediately clear. Some passengers told local media they first saw smoke coming from the ferry’s engine.
TV footage showed people in the water with the ferry in flames in the background. A woman in the water could be heard screaming “Ya Allah! Ya Allah!” or “Oh God! Oh God!”
Another woman told the TV station that she and other passengers were rescued by a small boat.
Officials said more than 230 people were aboard the ferry, but the manifest showed that only 100 were registered as passengers, along with six crewmen, said Denny Wahyu Haryanto, head of the disaster mitigation agency. He said the vessel’s captain was under police investigation over the incident.