The ferry, named KM Karya Indah, was heading early on Saturday for Sanana, a port on the remote island of Limafatola in northeastern Indonesia when a fire broke out on board. The blaze started just 15 minutes after the vessel left the port in Ternate, the provincial capital of North Maluku province.
The flames quickly engulfed the large vessel, forcing the people on board to seek salvation in the sea. Videos published on social media show people sitting in rescue rafts as well as those in the water clinging to floating objects looking at the fire raging on board the ferry, sending plumes of black smoke into the sky.
Luckily, no lives were lost in the incident, as all 181 passengers, including 22 children, and 14 crew members were rescued and evacuated to a nearby island, according to Wisnu Wardana, a spokesperson for the Indonesian sea transportation directorate general. He also said that fishing boats operating in the area had promptly joined the rescue efforts.
Some people received injuries, including abrasions and hypothermia, and many were in a state of shock, a local official said. The ferry, while visibly charred, stayed afloat after the blaze was extinguished. It sustained serious damage in the fire, and was towed to a nearby port by a tugboat.
The causes of the incident are still being investigated but some witnesses told authorities that the fire had originated in the engine room, AP reported. I
ndonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, incorporating more than 17,000 islands. The nation has repeatedly seen maritime incidents involving ferries, that have often resulted in casualties. In 2006 and 2009, Indonesian ferries sank in stormy weather, each disaster leaving hundreds of people dead.
One of the latest major ferry incidents in Indonesia occurred in 2018 when a vessel sank in Lake Toba on North Sumatra due to overloading, killing up to 167 people.
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