Death Toll Rises To 19 In Sulawesi Ferry Sinking; Search Called Off

On Monday, the death count of a ferry sinking in the waters of South Sulawesi increased to 19. The search and rescue operation have been called off after 10 days.

The KM Ladang Pertiwi had run out of fuel and eventually sunk in poor weather conditions as it was sailing in the Makassar Strait of the South Sulawesi province on 26 May.

News of the accident reached the officials after two days, prompting an immediate search and rescue mission, involving tugboats and local fishermen, who were passing via the strait. Authorities were able to rescue 31 crew members and passengers. They discovered four bodies. About 15 were declared missing before the search effort was stopped. Those who have been missing are presumed dead.

Sulawesi Ferry Sinking
Image for representation purpose only

The captain of the vessel, who survived the sinking, had been named as a suspect for allowing passengers without a relevant permit, last week. The owner of the ship was also named and thought to be a suspect as it hired crew members who lacked proper qualifications, per reports from the local media.

Djunaidi, the rescue, and local search chief, reportedly said that local fishermen who sail that area regularly have been asked to alert authorities if they come across more bodies. He said that the search can be restarted if there are signs of any survivors. Djunaidi also declared during a press meet on Monday that the incident was a reminder to prioritize safety.

Marine accidents are quite common in Indonesia that boasts 17,000 islands. Here, safety regulations are laxly enforced.

In May 2022, a ferry that had over 800 individuals on board had run aground in the waters off East Nusa Tenggara and was stuck for about two days before they were dislodged. No one, luckily, was hurt in the accident.

In 2018, over 150 individuals drowned as a ferry sunk in one of the deepest lakes in the world, located on Sumatra Island.

Reference -The Jakarta Post, The Times Of India

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