June 26, 2006

Nine dead in Indonesia ferry sinking: official

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Nine people have been confirmed dead
and 25 were still missing from a ferry sinking last week off
Sumatra island's west coast, a search and rescue official said
on Monday.

Zaenul Tahar also told Reuters 95 people had been saved
since the Sinar Mulia Indah ferry ran into bad weather and high
waves early last Thursday and sank. That figure was just one
higher than the number as of Friday.

Tahar said rough weather had hampered the search for
survivors and casualties, but conditions were favorable on

"We found eight bodies just now, early this morning," Tahar
said by telephone from Sibolga port in Sumatra.

"I think they were too long in the sea and suffered from
dehydration. It's hard to identify who they are."

The ferry, which regularly took people to Nias island,
popular with surfers, sprang a leak before it hit huge waves.

Ferries are a popular 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.