An overcrowded boat with 40 passengers onboard capsized Monday during a short 20-minute journey near Sulawesi island. Authorities have recovered the bodies of 15 individuals, while search work continues for another 19, according to the national search and rescue agency.
Only six passengers were believed to have survived the incident, it added.
While the survivors are currently receiving treatment at local hospitals, all the recovered bodies have been identified and handed over to their families, said Muhamad Arafah from the local branch of the search and rescue agency.
One search team will dive around the site, with another searching the surface, he added.
The ferry capsized around midnight, with the exact cause still being investigated. Photos shared by the rescue agency showed a number of bodies of victims on the floor of the local hospital. The vessel is believed to have them carrying people across a distance of just 1km.
The entire journey was meant to be just 20 minutes long. According to Indonesian media, villagers had travelled for a local celebration and gathered on an overcrowded boat that capsized late Monday night on its way back.
Marine accidents aren’t rare in Indonesia, where scores of people depend on small boats and ferries to reach their destinations despite poor safety standards. A ferry sank in 2018 in one of the world’s deepest lakes on Sumatra island. Over 150 passengers onboard drowned.
In May 2022, a ferry ran aground in shallow waters off East Nusa Tenggara province. More than 800 people were onboard the vessel, which remained stuck for a couple of days before being dislodged. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident.