More than a dozen dead after ferry capsizes off Indonesia’s Sulawesi island

Tria Dianti
More than a dozen dead after ferry capsizes off Indonesia’s Sulawesi island This handout photo from Indonesia’s National Rescue Agency (Basarnas) taken and released on July 24, 2023 shows members of a rescue team setting out to search for survivors of a ferry accident in eastern Indonesia.

Updated at 7:20 a.m. ET time on 2023-07-24

Fifteen people were killed and 33 others survived after a ferry capsized and sank in waters off Indonesia’s Southeast Sulawesi province, a local official said Monday.

The ferry was carrying 48 people who were returning from an event to celebrate the anniversary of Buton Tengah regency when it encountered trouble around midnight on Sunday, said Muhammad Arafah, head of the National Search and Rescue Agency in the provincial capital Kendari.

Arafah initially said that the ferry had 40 people on board and that 19 were missing. He later revised the numbers after learning that some of the survivors had not reported to the authorities and had gone home on their own.

“Out of the 48 people on board the ferry, 33 survived the accident. Only six survivors were initially reported, because the other 27 went home without notifying the authorities,” he said.

Those six surviving passengers were taken for a check-up at a health clinic, while the bodies of the dead victims were returned to their families, Arafah said.


The cause of the accident, which occurred between Lanto village and Lagili village on either side of Mawasangka Tengah Bay, is unclear. 

Maritime accidents are common in Indonesia, an archipelago nation of more than 17,000 islands where many people depend on boats for transport. The accidents are often caused by poor safety standards and overloading of passengers and cargo.

In 2018, more than 190 people died after a wooden passenger boat sank in Lake Toba on the island of Sumatra. The lack of a manifest prevented authorities from determining exactly how many people died in the incident. 


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