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Search resumes for 44 missing from Indonesia boat sinking

USAToday


Indonesian rescue authorities on Thursday resumed a search for more than 40 people missing from the sinking of an overcrowded speedboat a day earlier.

The search effort, which was suspended after nightfall Wednesday, started again at daylight with some 280 personnel involved, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of the country's disaster mitigation agency.

Eighteen bodies have been identified and 39 people were rescued, according to the agency.

There were 101 people were on the boat, and 44 are still missing, Sutopo said.

The boat carrying Indonesian workers home from Malaysia capsized off the Indonesian island of Batam at about 5 a.m. Wednesday during stormy weather.

Hardin Nafiih, chief of the Riau Islands province disaster mitigation agency, said the boat sank about 7.4 kilometers from land.

Police suspect the trip was illegal and the workers were undocumented because of the high fares that passengers said they paid. Those on board included three crew members.

Batam police chief Sambudi Gusdian said an Indonesian woman believed to be responsible for the voyage was arrested Wednesday as she tried to leave Batam for nearby Singapore.

Haryanto, a 51-year-old survivor, said the boat capsized in heavy rain and high waves about two hours after it left Johor Bahru in Malaysia.

"It was so crowded some of us could not sit," said Haryanto, who was saved by fishermen. Like many Indonesians, he goes by one name.

Speedboats and ferries are a common form of transport in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago. Sinkings are common due to poorly enforced safety regulations.

One of the worst ferry sinkings in recent years occurred off Sulawesi island in 2009, killing more than 330 people.

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