Government establishes ad-hoc team to investigate Lake Toba tragedy

Government establishes ad-hoc team to investigate Lake Toba tragedy

SAR team combined to search the victims of the sinking KM Sinar Bangun in Lake Toba, Simalungun, North Sumatra. (ANTARA /Irsan Mulyadi)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government has established an ad-hoc team, which includes the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) and the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), to investigate the sinking of MV Sinar Baru in Lake Toba, North Sumatra.

The committee would give its recommendation to the Transportation Ministry based on the result of the investigation, the Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said here on Saturday.

"The ad-hoc team would be tasked for two weeks to one month to conduct thorough investigation and provide recommendations to avoid such incidents in the future," Sumadi stated.

The team has started its investigation at the site of the incident to look for detailed information.

The preliminary investigation on the incident, which claimed many lives, has shown that the ship`s operator had violated some regulations, he noted.

The recommendations from the ad-hoc team, he continued, could cover various issues, including the need to improve maintenance of ships that serve transportation from Sumatra Island to Samosir Island.

The ad-hoc team would also conduct investigation on the standard operational procedures for ships, from its departure to arrival at ports, and whether or not it has met regulations.

Sumadi explained that the shipping frequency from Sumatra to Samosir Island would increase during weekends or holidays.

"Many tourists would visit Samosir Island during weekend or holidays, and the shipping frequency would increase," he added.

The Transportation Ministry would issue certificate of ship worthiness to assure that ships operated in Lake Toba would be safe for passengers and improve human resource capability.

MV Sinar Baru capsized in Lake Toba, North Sumatra, at around 5 p.m. local time on Monday.

Based on the number of people still reportedly missing, there could have been up to 192 passengers on the boat, which actually has a maximum capacity of 43 passengers.

Only 21 passengers have been found, with 18 of them having survived.

Reported by Ahmad Wijaya