58 people missing after boat capsizes in eastern Indonesia


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The Independent Online

At least 58 people are still missing after a boat capsized in eastern Indonesia at the weekend - a far higher potential death toll than authorities initially thought.

Earlier, officials said only 14 people were missing after Sunday's sinking.

Dony Haryanto, of the local search and rescue agency, said the updated number was based on reports from relatives of the passengers and crew.

The Putri Ayu boat was travelling from Maluku's provincial capital, Ambon, to the nearby island of Buru when it capsized after being battered by a 10ft (3m) wave.

Twelve people were rescued on Sunday, but Mr Haryanto said rescuers have found nothing since then, despite good weather and extra ships and fishing boats joining the search today.

The overloaded wooden boat was carrying at least 70 people, but was licensed to carry just 40 and listed only 27 on its manifest. Manifests are generally unreliable in Indonesia because tickets are sold on board to passengers who are never registered.

Dozens of families and relatives were waiting for news of their loved ones in Ambon's Slamet Riadi port, Mr Haryanto said.

Ships are a main source of transportation in Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago nation with more than 17,000 islands. Accidents are common because the boats are often overloaded and poorly maintained.