PALEMBANG: At least 13 people died after a passenger boat capsized off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, two days after another ferry accident in the archipelago killed at least nine, police said Friday.
The boat was carrying 55 people along the Musi river when it hit a large wave and sank amid bad weather Wednesday, South Sumatra water police chief Robinson Siregar said.
He said the police were still searching for the captain, who reportedly survived but went missing.
“His assistant has been detained for questioning to find out, for example, whether or not the boat was seaworthy or there was negligence by the crew,” Siregar said. Bodies were found along the riverbank, with one discovered by locals an hour’s walk from the accident site.
It was the latest deadly maritime accident in the vast Indonesian archipelago, which relies heavily on boats to ferry people around its 17,000 islands, but has a patchy safety record.
On New Year’s Day, at least nine people died after a passenger boat capsized when travelling from the city of Tarakan to Tanjung Selor on Borneo island.
Last July, eight people drowned in a boat accident on the same route.
On New Year’s Day in 2016, at least 23 people died when a tourist boat from Jakarta burst into flames.
It was carrying about 250 local holidaymakers to celebrate the New Year on Tidung island near Jakarta.
Separately, a rare Sumatran tiger killed a woman working at a palm oil plantation in western Indonesia, the latest human-tiger conflict in an area hit bit widespread deforestation, police said Friday.
Local police chief Muhammad Rafi said the tiger mauled the 33-year-old worker on Wednesday in Indragiri Hilir, a district in Riau province.
Rafi said the tiger ran abruptly into the plantation owned by PT Tabung Haji Indo Plantation, causing the woman and two colleagues who were collection data on pests to run in panic.
He said the three climbed a nearby palm oil tree but the tiger managed to pull the victim to the ground where she was mauled to death.
“The two survivors saw how the tiger mauled her to death but they could not do anything to help her,” Rafi said. “It was a tragic conflict between human and animal.” Indonesia is home to some 400 Sumatran tigers, but they are increasingly under threat as their jungle habitat shrinks.