Indonesia rescue officials look for 26 people after boat with 43 onboard capsizes

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File photo: In May last year, about seven people drowned after a tourist boat had capsized off the Boyolali regency in central Java (Basarnas/AFP via Getty Images)
File photo: In May last year, about seven people drowned after a tourist boat had capsized off the Boyolali regency in central Java (Basarnas/AFP via Getty Images)

At least 26 people are feared missing after a boat carrying 43 people capsized in Indonesia.

The remainder 17 passengers were saved by passing tugboats, said rescue officials on Saturday.

The boat had sunk off Sulawesi island after it left Paotere port in Makassar, South Sulawesi province’s capital on Thursday midnight.

It had failed to reach its destination on Friday after which rescue officials launched a search operation, said news agency Reuters citing local media.

On Saturday, South Sulawesi’s search and rescue agency chief said those rescued were taken to the province’s South Kalimantan and Jeneponto areas.

“We have confirmation that the boat had sunk in the search area,” said Djunaidi, the rescue agency chief identified by only one name.

“We received information saying that 17 people were found and saved by passing tugboats,” he added.

Officials suspect fuel shortage and bad weather to be the likely causes of the accident.

Indonesia’s weather agency had warned of bad weather, including waves up to 8ft long, in Makassar strait areas on Thursday, reported Reuters.

There have been a number of boat capsizes reported from Indonesia over the years.

About seven people drowned after a tourist boat had capsized off the Boyolali regency in central Java in May last year.

Officials said the cause of the accident was “overcapacity”.

One of the country’s worst accidents had occurred off western Sulawesi decades ago in 2009, when around 250 people were feared dead after a ferry capsize.

Only 18 survivors were rescued with the help of fishing boats.

The ship’s captain – who was pulled out alive – said 150 people had jumped off the boat before it sank.

Additional reporting by agencies

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