April 18, 2006

All but one on board Indonesian ferry reported safe

JAKARTA (Reuters) - All but one person on an Indonesian
ferry that sank in eastern Indonesian waters are safe, a search
and rescue official told Reuters on Tuesday.

Slamet Riyadi also said by telephone that there were just
66 people on the ferry -- 60 passengers and six crew -- and not
around 100 as officials had feared earlier.

"Just one passenger has yet to be found," he said.

The Indonesian navy had dispatched one ship and an airplane
to search for the boat which ran into problems late on Monday
near Rote Island, 1,900 km (1,180 miles) east of the capital

It is often difficult to determine how many passengers are
aboard Indonesian ferries, since they frequently carry
individuals who have not paid for tickets or are not listed on

A ferry sank in heavy seas in the same area less than three
months ago, killing at least 10 people. More than 100 were

Ferries are a popular means of transport between the more
than 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.