Seven dead in Indonesia after boat capsizes while tourists were attempting selfie

One survivor reportedly loses wife and three of his children in accident, with youngest still yet to be found

Andy Gregory
Sunday 16 May 2021 17:44
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Rescuers searching for victims after a boat carrying 20 holiday-makers capsized in Indonesia
Rescuers searching for victims after a boat carrying 20 holiday-makers capsized in Indonesia

Seven people have drowned and two are still missing in Indonesia after a tourist boat capsized when all of its passengers suddenly moved to one side to take a selfie, police said.

After 11 people were rescued at the reservoir in the Boyolali regency on Saturday, authorities promised to investigate whether there was negligence by those managing the boat rides.

The vessel was helmed by a 13-year-old, Central Java police chief Ahmad Lutfi told journalists.

“The cause of the accident was overcapacity,” he was reported as saying by Agence France-Presse. “The 20 people took a selfie on the right side then the boat lost balance and flipped.”

The vessel – said to be around 1.5m wide and 6.5m long – had a capacity of 14, but was carrying 20 people at the time it capsized, local media quoted Boyolali’s police chief Morry Ermond as saying.

After the accident, police ordered that tourism sites within the Kedung Ombo Reservoir be closed “because they do not comply with [health and safety protocols] and violate the specified visitor capacity”, Mr Lufti said.

Members of Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency, Basarnas, were reported to be still trying to locate two people still missing on Sunday afternoon.

One of the two people still yet to be found is the youngest child of a male survivor, whose wife and two of his children – aged four and seven – were among those confirmed to have died in the accident, according to the news site Detik, which reported on their burial on Sunday.

The boat is said to have capsized while approaching a floating stall in the middle of the reservoir, with police having reportedly interviewed the boat owner, its captain, and the owner of the stall. They are looking to speak with further witnesses, local media reported.

Tragedies on water are not uncommon in the populous archipelago nation, where enforcement of safety standards are often weak and boats and ferries are frequently overcrowded with passengers.

Last month, rescuers scrambled to find 17 fishermen hurled into the sea in West Java after their wooden fishing boat collided with a larger cargo vessel.

Three were found dead and 13 were still missing when the search was ended.

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