January 31, 2006

Indonesia ferry missing, 105 on board – official

JAKARTA (Reuters) - An Indonesian ferry carrying 105 people
has gone missing in heavy seas in the country's east and naval
vessels had been called in to search for it, a port official
said on Wednesday.

El Shinta radio station said the vessel had sunk.

The port official, Syamsir Siahaan, told El Shinta there
were 82 passengers and 23 crew on board.

The vessel was traveling from Kupang on Indonesia's side of
Timor island to nearby Rote island when officials lost contact
with it on Tuesday night, Siahaan said.

"Navy ships have arrived there. We plan to send helicopters
out but they have not arrived yet," Siahaan said.

Siahaan said one person had been rescued.

The vessel, which was also carrying a number of cars and
trucks, went missing in heavy seas on Tuesday night but the
weather on Wednesday was fine, Siahaan said.

Kupang lies 1,200 miles east of Jakarta.

Hundreds of passenger ferries ply waters of the world's
largest archipelago. There are periodic sinkings, usually due
to bad weather or overcrowding.

The missing ferry's passenger capacity was unclear.