Survivors found four days after ferry sinking off Indonesia

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

REMBANG, Indonesia -- Fishing boats rescued dozens of survivors from the sea Tuesday, four days after a ferry went down in a storm off Indonesia. But 400 other people remained missing.

Strong winds and poor visibility prevented aircraft from joining the search Tuesday, but ships patrolled the waters off the Java coast in the area where the ferry sank before midnight Friday.

About 200 survivors have been found, and officials say the search will continue until Sunday. Thirteen bodies have been recovered; scores of others have been seen floating at sea.

The ferry Senopati Nusantara sank after being pounded by heavy waves for more than 10 hours as it neared the end of a two-day journey from the Indonesian section of Borneo island to the country's main island of Java. Officials said the bad weather caused the sinking.

Tropical waters

Indonesia's tropical waters are generally between 72 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. People have been known to survive for days at sea, but only with a buoyancy aid.

One 35-year-old survivor was picked up by fishermen and taken to hospital with chest pain and respiratory problems after drifting in a life raft for four days.

"Six among us died, one by one," said Susilo, who like many Indonesians uses one name. Some of those who died drank sea water, he said.

An additional 27 survivors were rescued elsewhere off the Java coast Tuesday and taken to the eastern port of Surabaya.

Search teams focused on the area around Madura island, said rescue worker Agus Anwari. "Heavy surf and high waves are still hampering our relief efforts, but we believe many survivors are over there, they need our help," he said.

In another sea incident, officials said a speed boat capsized in poor weather Monday off Borneo, killing 15 people. It was the fourth accident in less than a week in the archipelago. Besides the ferry sinking, scores died last week in flooding and mudslides triggered by heavy rains, while a plane carrying 102 people was missing after sending distress calls during a flight Monday.

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