February 2, 2006

Death toll in Indonesian ferry sinking reaches 10

JAKARTA (Reuters) - The death toll from a ferry sinking in
Indonesia this week has reached 10, while 125 people have been
rescued, a search and rescue official said on Friday.

That would leave around 20 people still missing, according
to estimates from survivors of the total number who were on
board the ferry that sank in heavy seas in Indonesia's east
late on Tuesday.

"Based on the latest report this morning, we have found 125
survivors, and 10 people died," rescue official Achmad Basuki
said from Kupang in West Timor. The search for survivors and
the dead would continue on Friday, he added.

The Indonesian navy has been the main player in the search
and rescue work for the ferry, the Citra Mandala Bahari, which
was traveling from Kupang town on Indonesia's side of Timor
island to nearby Rote island.

The manifest of passengers and crew on board listed less
than 100. However, it is common for Indonesian ferries to carry
considerably more passengers than are listed.

Some might have boarded without tickets, officials said,
noting a frequent practice across the world's largest

Officials say bad weather probably caused the sinking,
especially waves up to 16 ft high.

Sick or injured survivors have been taken to hospitals in
Kupang, about 1,200 miles east of Jakarta.

Ferries are the most common means of transport between the
17,000 islands of Indonesia, where sea connections are cheaper
and more available than air routes.

But safety standards are not strictly enforced and many
ferries are overcrowded. Some sink each year, especially in the
eastern and less developed parts of the country.