JAKARTA, Indonesia — At least 15 people were killed and 19 others are missing after an overloaded passenger ferry capsized off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, rescue workers said Monday.
Muhammad Arafa, the head of the local search and rescue agency, said the boat, which was traveling from Lando village in Batan Central Regency in Southeast Sulawesi province to nearby Lagili village, capsized after midnight on Monday.
The wooden boat carried 40 people, but was designed for just 20 people.
Rescuers were still searching for 19 people still missing in rough seas on Monday, Arafa said, while 15 bodies had been recovered and six people had been rescued.
Three inflatable boats, two fishing boats and six divers have been deployed to search for the missing.
Thousands of residents went to their villages to celebrate the 9th anniversary of the regency on Sunday, and many were transported by fishing or passenger boats.
Television news showed footage of fishing boats rescuing bodies in the darkness of the night, and grieving relatives waiting for information at the port and local hospital.
Indonesia is an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, and boats are the most common form of transportation. Due to poor safety standards and problems with congestion, accidents occur frequently.
In 2018, a boat carrying about 200 people sank in a lake in North Sumatra province, killing 167 people.
In one of the country’s worst recorded disasters, a passenger ship sank in February 1999 with 332 people on board. Only 20 people survived.