Search for missing victims underway after ship catches fire in central Indonesia

JAKARTA (Xinhua) – An operation is underway to search for and rescue the missing victims of a passenger ship that caught fire in waters off central Indonesia’s South East Sulawesi province a day earlier, Head of Provincial Search and Rescue Office Junaidi Satta said.

Seven people including two children were killed and four others went missing, while 61 were rescued as the ship caught fire on Saturday.

“A total of 73 personnel from military, police, search and rescue office and communities were jointly combing the waters off Bokori Island in Konawe district, where the incident happened,” Junaidi said.

“The focus of the operation is to comb the territory with a radius of six miles from the scene. Ships and rigid-inflatable boats were deployed to support the operation.

“The weather condition supports our mission now,” he told Xinhua via phone.

“Therefore, we have prepared scores of divers to reach underwater if we find a clue of their existence.”

“Now the divers are on a standby position,” he added.

The ship was heading to a seaport in Kaleroang of Marowali district in nearby Central Sulawesi province when the incident happened.