At least 15 dead, 19 missing after ferry sinks in Sulawesi, Indonesia

   July 24, 2023 ,   Accidents

On Monday, July 24th, Indonesian authorities launched a search and rescue operation for missing passengers following the sinking of a ferryboat off Southeast Sulawesi.

The national search and rescue agency reported that at least 15 people had been killed in the accident. Out of the 40 passengers on board, 19 were still unaccounted for, while 6 were fortunate to survive, as stated in an official statement by the agency. The exact cause of the sinking, which took place around midnight, remained unclear.

Muhamad Arafah, representing the local branch of the search and rescue agency, informed that all the victims had been identified and their bodies handed over to their respective families. Meanwhile, the survivors were receiving medical attention at nearby hospitals. Distressing photos shared by the rescue agency depicted the victims' bodies covered with cloth on the floor of a local hospital.

The ill-fated vessel was carrying passengers across a bay on Muna island, located ~200 km (124 miles) south of Kendari, the capital of Southeast Sulawesi province. The search efforts included one team diving around the site of the accident and another conducting surface searches using boats. The rescue agency shared images of rescuers mobilizing for the operation, along with several deceased individuals covered with sarongs on tarpaulin at a local hospital.

Ferries serve as a common mode of transportation in Indonesia, an archipelago comprising 17,000+ islands. Unfortunately, accidents are not uncommon due to relaxed safety standards that often lead to overloading of vessels without sufficient life-saving equipment.