Up to 740 feared dead as Indonesian ferry sinks

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The Independent Online

A ferry with up to 800 people on board sank in Indonesia's Java Sea yesterday when a violent storm sent towering waves over its deck.

By nightfall, navy ships had rescued 68 people, but officials feared many of those on board died soon after the boat went down at midnight on Friday.

The Senopati was travelling from Borneo when it ran into trouble during a vicious storm. In his last radio contact, the captain informed port authorities that the ship was severely damaged, leaking and capsizing.

"We all just prayed as waves got higher," said Cholid, a passenger who survived by clinging to wooden planks, but lost his 18-year-old daughter. Passengers fought over life jackets as the boat capsized, sending cars crashing into one another in the cargo hold, he said.

Rescuers found no trace of the boat yesterday. Indonesian vessels often carry passengers not listed on the official manifests, and more than 800 may have been on board.