111 survive E Nusa Tenggara`s sinking vessel: rescue agency

Kupang, E Nusa Tenggara, (ANTARA News) - A passenger vessel with 111 people onboard sank in the vicinity waters off Pasir Island of Nagekeo District, East Nusa Tenggara Province, on Friday morning, but all the passengers survived the incident, a rescue worker said.

The Motor Vessel, Sangke Palangga POB 50, capsized while sailing from Bira Jampea Port in South Sulawesi Province to Marapokot Port in Nagekeo District, Flores Island, Head of the Meumere Search and Rescue Agency I Putu Sudayana said.

"The ferry was carrying 28 crew members and 83 passengers consisting of 72 adults and 11 children," he said in a press statement that Antara received here on Friday.

The sinking took place in the coordinates of 08?266.84S 121?1749.62E in the vicinity of waters off the coast of Pasir Island. When the accident happened at around 08.45 am, Central Indonesian Standard Time, the height of the waves was predicted to be 0.5 meters.

The speed of the winds was estimated at 20 knots, while the ill-fated ship`s engine and navigation equipment reportedly worked well, I Putu Sudayana said, adding that all the people onboard had been rescued safely and brought to Marapokot Seaport.

"They were evacuated by the SAR personnel at around 09.45 am local time to Marapokot Seaport," he said.

He urged ferry operators, shipping lines, and local fishermen to be cautious about weather conditions by paying attention to the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) weather reports.

"They should also equip their vessels with workable communication, navigation, and safety equipment," he said.

Transportation safety remains a serious challenge for Indonesia. Last year, a series of fatal accidents occurred.

Two of them were the incident of the Lion Air JT 610 aircraft, with 189 passengers, which crashed into the Java Sea off Tanjung Karawang, West Java Province, on October 29, 2018; and the sinking of Motor Vessel "Sinar Bangun" in Lake Toba, North Sumatra.

The passenger ship sank to the bottom of Lake Toba on June 18, 2018, where three passengers died and 164 others went missing.

Reporting by Aloysius Lewokeda, Rahmad Nasution
Editing by Suharto