IRIAN JAYA PASSENGER SHIP SINKING RESCUE OPERATION FOUND ONLY 38 OF MORETHAN 320 PASSENGERS BELIEVED ABOARD

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IRIAN JAYA
PASSENGER SHIP SINKING RESCUE OPERATION FOUND ONLY 38 OF MORE THAN 320
PASSENGERS BELIEVED ABOARD

JAKARTA, Indonesia (October 25, 1999 – Indonesian Observer/Kabar-Irian)---A Search and Rescue (SAR) team reported here on Saturday that it had found 53 victims of the "Bimas Raya II" passenger ship, which sank in southern Irian Jaya waters last Monday, an official said.

"Some 15 of the victims were found dead and 38 others are being treated in Merauke Public Hospital," H. F. Nelwan, head of the provincial transportation office, told Antara.

The Bimas Raya II ferry, which had a loading capacity of only 125 passengers, reportedly carried more than 320 passengers, Nelwan said, adding that the SAR team used five boats and a TNI (National Defense Forces) owned Puma helicopter in the rescue effort.

The ship, of 380 GWT (Gross Weight Tonnage) and based in Surabaya (East Java) was believed to have leaked, causing panic among many of the passengers who then ran up to the upper deck of the ship before the ship capsized.

It was reported that the ship capsized at night in the Hobe-Okaba waters, some 60 nautical miles west of Merauke on its route from the Kimaam area to Merauke.

Meanwhile, Irian Jaya Governor Freddy Numberi has set up a team to investigate the cause of the incident and expressed his condolences to victims of the KM Bimas Raya II sinking.

"The team is expected to uncover the cause of the incident and make accurate reports so that we can take the best action in order to avoid a similar incident in the future," he said in Jayapura, Irian Jaya, yesterday.

"I also express condolences on the death of . . . hundreds. . . who are still missing in the incident," he said, adding that his administration had made serious attempts to find the cause of the incident.

He acknowledged that in August 1999, another ship, the KM Sembra, sank in Klamono waters, Sorong regency of the province, and caused the deaths of 49 people.

Sorong administration gave only Rp2 million compensation to the family of each victim.

The captain of the ship, who was one of those rescued, is now being detained at Merauke police headquarters.

KABAR IRIAN ("Irian News") Website: http://www.irja.org/ 

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